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7 Benefits of Composting
Composting at home is something anyone can do if they have the interest and the proper ingredients. It really doesn't take much to begin to make your own compost, and the benefits of composting certainly outweigh the drawbacks. Here are seven primary benefits of composting.
Cleans up existing pollution
According to the EPA, composting cleans up soils that have been contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), explosives and heavy metals. Compost directly treats some of these toxic chemicals to render them harmless. Binding with heavy metals such as mercury, compost prevents these poisonous materials from escaping into our ground water, rivers, lakes and streams.
Preserves higher air quality
By composting yard waste rather than burning brush, branches and twigs, air quality can be improved. Composting at home also reduces the amount of methane gas released by landfills and, consequently, its foul odor.
Reduces the amount of waste in landfills
According to the EPA, approximately 12 percent of the United States’ solid municipal waste is food scraps, with an additional 43 percent of solid waste consisting of paper and yard trimmings. The California government's website on recycling states that 34 percent of waste that ends up in the state's landfills is organic material that could have been composted.
Reduces the effects of greenhouse gases
According to the EPA, landfills are one of the largest worldwide human-related sources of methane gas, which is produced by the decay of organic material. When released into the atmosphere, methane gas traps 20 times more heat and causes more damage than carbon dioxide.
According to the U.S. Composting Council, if everyone in the U.S. composted their food waste rather than sending it to the landfill, the impact on greenhouse gas reduction would be the same as if 7.8 million passenger cars were removed from the road.
Improves soil quality and reduces erosion
By encouraging healthy root systems and altering the soil structure, composting helps to prevent soil erosion on embankments and turf loss on hillsides and playing fields. Washington State University reports that with only a 5 percent increase in organic material, the water-holding capacity of soil could quadruple.
Replenishes soil nutrients
According to the EPA, composting improves drainage and helps with moisture absorption by encouraging beneficial micro-organisms. Rich compost full of vitamins and minerals from decomposed organic material also helps to suppress plant diseases that are often found in poor, lifeless soil by reducing the number of harmful pests and chemical pesticides.
Compost acts as an environmentally friendly fertilizer. Farmers and gardeners who use compost in their agricultural practices encourage the healthy development of plants, help the environment and save money by opting not to use chemical fertilizers. The total economy of a particular area can benefit when there is close cooperation between urban and rural elements: Salvaged and composted urban organics can be put to work in the agricultural sector as fertilizer. Another economic benefit of composting is that it can extend the life of an existing landfill and provide a less expensive way to clean soil that is already polluted.