Dealing With Organic Waste
OUR SOIL NEEDS ORGANIC MATERIAL BUT WE THROW IT AWAY! Well over 80% of lawns, trees, and shrubs growing in home landscapes in America are trying to live in dead, compacted soil.
In all cases, the prescription is fairly simple - give your soil 3-5% organic material of some kind EVERY YEAR, and the soil will become healthy and stay healthy. More important, the plants living in that healthy soil will need less fertilizer, will need less water, and will have fewer problems requiring the use of any kind of pesticide.
So where do we get this organic material? Well, the first place to look is in our very own trash that we put out for municipal pickup each week or more. Americans routinely throw away the very materials they could use to fix up their own soil. If we figure out how to recycle much of that organic waste into the soil we get two benefits - we improve our soil and the health of our landscape plants and re seriously reduce the volume of material going into the national waste stream that is filling up our landfill sites.
COMPOSITION OF ORGANIC WASTE FROM THE HOME
For purposes of this discussion “organic waste” from the home includes all that stuff that we normally throw away that could benefit our soil if we could only figure out a way to get it down there. Organic waste from the home breaks down into roughly five broad categories of trash.
Grass Clippings -
Other Organic Yard Stuff- twigs, weeds, prunings, dead flowers
Kitchen Garbage -
Paper - While not usually included in discussions of yard waste, paper is perfectly good organic material and we throw it all away. Here we will focus on newspapers and junk mail as our primary concern.
An analysis of the makeup of the typical residential yard waste load shows that grass clippings is by far the largest component at 41%. Then food waste makes up almost one third at 31% and all the rest, mostly leaves, makes up the remaining 28%.
RECYCLE ORGANIC WASTE BACK INTO THE SOIL
The big question, of course, is how far can any individual homeowner go in recycling his/her own organic home and yard waste? The answer is over 95% of organic home, yard, and kitchen waste can be processed right on the home's site, and 60% of it is easy.