By: Heather Gilbert of Finger Lakes Compost
Composting diverts organic materials from landfills where they would break down and be emitted into the atmosphere as methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases (GHG) are gases in the atmosphere that trap heat near the earth’s surface. Good composting practices that balance the carbon: nitrogen ratio and provide adequate aeration and moisture will minimize GHG emissions.
The methane is developed due to the anaerobic decomposition. The lack of oxygen, that takes place in a landfill. Whereas a compost pile decomposes aerobically, with oxygen producing mainly CO2. CO2 released during composting is considered biogenic, not anthropogenic This depends upon the types and ratio of material included in the compost (i.e., food, manure, yard waste), and how often the pile is turned or use of another method of oxygen introduction. Methane has been found in the bottom of compost piles, but the methane is then oxidized as it reaches more aerobic portions of the pile and before leaving the pile.
Compost benefits the climate in a few different ways, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions at landfills, promoting uptake of carbon dioxide by vegetation, and by making our projects and gardens more resilient to the effects of climate change.
Finally, compost also helps to increase resilience to the effects of climate change – drought and extreme weather that we’re already seeing. Compost plays a vital role in helping to prevent erosion during extreme storm events and in retaining water when there are droughts. Both of those events are increasing with climate change and compost can help to buffer our planet from their effects. Composting is good for the environment, turn your spoil into soil!
Heather Gilbert owner of Finger Lakes Compost LLC lives, grows, eats, and breathes the finger lakes. Heather strives on sustainability education and composting best practices to share with the community. She has completed the US Composting Council certified accredited composting course. Member of the USCC. Proud recipient of the 2019 USCC “food waste diversion outreach program of the year” award.
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