Saving Money and the “3 R’s” of Green Living

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Composting is one of those rare things that is very easy to do and offers multiple important benefits.

How easy is composting? All you need is a location in your yard and some kind of containment for the compost that develops. Ideally, the compost sits on the ground, allowing worms access to it from below ground.

Your compost bin can be a specialized compost container custom-built for the purpose, a trash can with the bottom cut out of it, or an area about 3 feet square bounded on three sides by wooden walls. The cost is minimal, even if you buy a compost bin. It turns out that my town gives compost bins to residents for free, so you should check availability where you live.

What goes into compost? Kitchen scraps, yard waste, and a lot of similar items that would otherwise go to trash and landfill. By putting biodegradable items like coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit and vegetable peelings, grass clippings, and leaves into your compost bin, you are not just reducing the amount of waste you send to the landfill each week. You are also creating a nutrient-rich addition to the soil that will enhance your lawn and garden.

Now that we know how easy it is to start composting, let’s look at the benefits of composting. Your cost for trash removal can go down in some cases. Regardless, you will be saving your local municipality valuable landfill space. Assuming that you accumulate 2 pounds of kitchen waste each day for your compost, and 30 pounds of yards waste each week, this adds up to more than 2,000 pounds of materials that naturally biodegrade into a rich soil amendment rather than being hauled to the nearest trash collection center. You will reduce the need for fertilizer for your lawn and garden. The amount of watering needed will decrease as well because compost helps hold water in the soil. In practical terms, this saves money and gives you a more productive garden.  You will also be following all of the three R’s: reducing waste, reusing food scraps and yard waste, and recycling those materials into the soil. What is not to like about that?

In terms of composting, there are only a few no-nos. Avoid putting any animal waste into the compost, such as fish and meat scraps, bones, dairy products, and pet feces. (Actually, the waste from herbivores is OK, but not meat eaters, which is what most household pets like dogs and cats are.)

Composting is one of the easiest ways to make your lifestyle more green and sustainable, and it offers several tangible benefits that include improving the productivity of your garden and saving money.

I encourage you to get started.

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July 2011
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