By Sandford Tuey
Separating your recyclable items not only helps preserve the environment but keeps bottles, cans and other things from cluttering your home and yard. It is the way of the future and some cities require the separation of your garbage. So be a pioneer and role model for your community.
All composting requires three basic ingredients.
- Browns – Includes dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
- Greens – Includes grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
- Water – Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.
Try to have an equal amount of browns to greens. You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different sizes. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provides nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.
There are different ways to build a compost pile. Helpful tools include pitchforks, square-point shovels or machetes, and water hose with a spray head that can reach the compost bin. Regular mixing or turning of the compost and adding some water will help the materials breakdown and produce fertilizer you can use on your garden, fruit trees or flower beds.
- Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
- Add brown and green materials as you collect them, make sure large pieces are chopped or shredded to fit.
- Moisten dry materials as they are added.
- Mix in grass clippings and green waste into the compost and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
- It is a good idea to cover the top of compost with a hatch door or tarp to keep it moist. When material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This can take anywhere between two months to two years. Your new compost will generate excellent fertilizer and save you money.
If you do not have space for an outdoor compost pile, you can compost materials indoor using a type of bin you can buy at a local hardware store, gardening supply store, or make yourself. Remember to tend your pile and keep track of what you throw in. A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad.
What you can compost:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Tea bags
- Nut shells
- Shredded newspaper
- Yard trimmings
- Grass clippings
- Hay and straw
- Wood chips
- Cotton and Wool Rags
- Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
- Hair and fur
- Fireplace ashes
What you should not compost:
- Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
- Coal or charcoal ash
- Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs since they create odors and attract pests like rodents and flies
- Diseased or insect-ridden plants because the diseases or insects may transfer to other plants in your bin
- Fats, grease, lard, or oils since these create foul odors and attract pests such as rodents and flies
- Meat or fish bones and scraps because of odors that can attract animals
- Pet waste as in dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter or other pet droppings. These may contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
- Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides as this will kill beneficial composting organisms
Check with your local composting or recycling coordinator and see if these organics are accepted by your community curbside or drop-off composting program.
You can mask or enhance the awful smells of garbage and compost by adding a fragrance dispenser.
Recycle items not for the compost:
- Batteries are household hazardous waste and that they shouldn’t.
- Old mattresses have materials that can be recycled. Few cities offer to recycle a mattress or even allow them to be thrown in the city dump.
- Propane tanks are refillable but sometimes you just want to toss it and buy a new tank.
- Beer in a glass bottle is best for recycling, yet if your beer comes in cans, that is also recyclable
- Recycle your cellphone at a local drop-off location in your community.
- Dispose of old roofing materials like asphalt shingles or tar.
- Many products from strollers to toys or certain plastics are recyclable. If you’re in the Metro Vancouver area, they will pickup and drop-off dates in and around your area.
- Metal keys can be recycled metal, but you need to find a metal recycler near you.
- When switching to more energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) or Christmas lights. LEDs use 90 per cent less energy and last 10 times longer so it is well worth the change.
- Never put in your residential garbage drywall (also known as gypsum board, wallboard, gyproc). Drywall is recyclable at Gypsum Recycling International.
Most cities have large-item pick-up or drop-off programs that run throughout the year. Always check your city’s website. Make your life easier on the environment and join green living. By uniting these areas makes doing waste collection and composting a lot easier and less time consuming.