News & Events

Composting for the climate can be easy

By Jodi Leamon, ACDEM’s Sustainability Coordinator

Sometimes news about climate change can feel overwhelming, but there is something we can all do at home to make a difference. One of the simplest climate-positive habits to implement in the average person’s life is to start composting.

Let’s take a quick look at the science:

Organic material includes anything that decomposes like leaves, yard waste, food scraps, and paper products. Organics that are thrown in the trash end up in the landfill, where they make up the largest part of the waste stream nationally. Once buried in a landfill, these types of material decompose without oxygen to release methane gas which is a major contributor to climate change.

Composting is the decomposition of organic materials in the presence of oxygen. This process does not produce greenhouse gasses but creates a nutrient-rich product that can be used to improve soil fertility and grow plants that help clean and cool our environment.

Almost anyone can start composting using one of several methods. It can be a complicated process or one that is hassle-free, depending on how involved you want to get. The internet has thousands of resources for all kinds of situations including apartment dwellers.

The following items can be composted:

  • Yard waste
  • Grass
  • Leaves
  • Fresh food scraps
  • Old leftover food
  • Coffee and tea grounds
  • Filters
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Pet fur
  • Hair

I prefer what I call lazy composting. I have a mesh barrel-sized container just outside my back door where I chuck most of my organic waste and leave it to do its decomposition thing. Some people prefer to be diligent about balancing carbon (brown materials) and nitrogen (green materials) containing inputs. There are some who use red worms to accelerate the decomposition of materials, especially in small indoor spaces. There are some expensive compost bins and thousands of DIY versions that cost almost nothing.

There are also resources available if you need to outsource your composting. Yard waste that is too bulky for your home bin can be dropped off at Fort Wayne’s Biosolids Handling Facility. Allen County is also lucky to have some businesses starting up that will offer pick-up services for your compostable waste.

Any organic material kept out of landfills is a step in the right direction toward mitigating climate change and creating a resilient community. Taking on this relatively small change in lifestyle can make a big difference while giving you the satisfaction of knowing you are doing something to help the entire planet. ACDEM can help you get started composting or provide more information on other services available. Contact us for more information.