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Blog Action Day - What About Compost?

Have you ever noticed that the canned answer for anyone who wants to start living green is to replace all of your light bulbs?

"Oh, you want to help the environment, you better get all new light bulbs."
"Light bulbs are the way to go."
"Yes, I changed my light bulbs for children."
"Did you watch that Al Gore concert?"
"Yeah, he said I need new light bulbs or the Earth will explode."

It’s not like old light bulbs were nuclear powered or anything but it’s still great first step that’s easy for people to accomplish no matter where they live. Whether it’s out in the country on a farm or in a small studio apt in the city people have light bulbs.

But what can you do after that?
"I hear that the meat industry is a big producer of carbon dioxide, how about going vegetarian."
"Hmmm, I think I’ll stick with my light bulbs."
"How about driving an electric car?"
"Gosh, that Prius is pretty ugly, how about putting new light bulbs in my SUV."

I’m really glad that more and more people want to add some green habits to their lives but it saddens me that composting isn’t considered more often. It’s not hard to do, in fact if you have a yard with trees and grass you’re ready to start composting.

Just pile up your lawn clippings in a corner somewhere. Then during the fall, instead of raking up leaves to be left at the curb, add them to your pile. There you go, you’re composting. If you don’t like the looks of this mound, then you can buy a fancy compost bin or even make one yourself. A simple piece of wire fencing in the shape of a circle is perfect for composting leaves and grass. Okay, you’re done. Who says that it’s too hard to go green?

I’m not proposing that we replace our coffee tables with vermicomposting bins and raise worms in our living rooms. No, that’s even too much for someone who runs a blog about compost, yuck! Just save some leaves and grass and you’re off to a great start.

If you don’t have the time or energy to mix the pile every month or so, it’ll still turn to compost all by itself. Compost doesn’t need your help. Who do you think mixes the leaves in a forest? Just wait about a year or two and you’ll get your compost without doing anything. And if you keep the ratio of leaves to grass at about 30:1 and water it every once in a while and it’ll compost even quicker.

So how will this help? Compost is a natural fertilizer that can be added to plants or spread out over your lawn. Those chemical fertilizers that everyone uses wind up washing down the storms drains and then they cause algae blooms in our lakes and ponds. Plus think about all the energy it takes to produce those chemical fertilizers. If you stop buying it, they’ll stop making it.

By composting you’re also reducing the amount of garbage you produce and keeping this yard waste out of the landfill . If your town or city doesn’t have a composting program then all of your leaves are just going to the dump. They won’t decompose there.

Compost can also help your soil retain more moisture so you can cut down on watering. And last time I checked, saving water was a good thing too.

But the best part about compost is that it’s free.

With all of these benefits, it’s a wonder why everyone doesn’t start composting. Great for the soil, conserves water, stops fertilizer run off. And it isn’t hard to do. Just pile up your leaves and grass clipping in a corner or your yard and wait. Now who can’t do that? Why it’s as easy as changing a light bulb.

This post is my contribution to Blog Action Day.


  1. lisa said...
    "Replace the lightbulb in my SUV"...tee hee! I appreciate the fact that you made the case for "cold" composting. I think a lot of people see composting as some big project: tracking the pile temps, turning/mixing the pile, etc.. I remember when I first started my bin, I researched what I could/could not add, perused forums, and generally freaked myself out. But composting really IS easy, and you're right-do nothing and you get compost anyway! In four years, I've added tons of crap, and it all just "disappears" into the bin (until I scoop it out from the bottom, that is! ;-)
    Unknown said...
    Great points, Anthony. And you're right--I'm a very lazy composter, so I know I have to wait a little longer to get the finished product, but it definitely is easy!
    Gina said...
    you'll be happy to know that I'm trying my damndest to compost but I have yet to replace my lightbulbs.

    I enjoyed your blog action day post and was so hoping you'd sing the praises of compost today.

    Jenna said...
    Very well said. (But then, your posts usually are.)

    While the odd scrap doesn't make it to the pile, husband and I ARE getting better about it. Shoot, I've even caught him doing the compost wander after dinner a time or two, all without me asking.

    Now 'scuse me. I have a yard full of leaves to rake. (And a few neighbor's piles to pilfer! Why let the street cleaners get it when it will help my tomatos?)
    Anthony said...
    Lisa, yes, I was going for the easiest possible way to compost that won't frustrate newcomers.

    Blackswamp_Girl, I agree, making a pile and waiting is definitely easy. :)

    Gina, just replace your bulbs as they burn out. No reason to get rid of perfectly good bulbs. Your priorities sound about right to me.

    Jenna, Have a great time pilfering!
    Unknown said...
    Love the sense of humour behind the post, well done..
    Ki said...
    Yeah it seems people want quick tech fixes like solar panels (hey you wanna come see my meter turn backwards) when a low tech hot water panel would make more sense and be cheaper too but not very sexy. Actually the making of solar panels uses toxic materials and quite a bit of energy so the net gain is not as much as you think.
    Anthony said...
    BBG, Thanks!

    Ki, Nice points. I use a similar argument about net gain whenever I talk with people in favor of the whole hydrogen based fuel thing.
    Ed Bruske said...
    second that emotion--if only everyone were composting. spread the word
    waliz said...
    if i put all the leaves and grass into a bin then how do i get the compost at the bottom of the bin?silly question?yes?no?...
    Anonymous said...
    Great, common sense approach to living green. I especially liked the part about the Previa. You're right. Composting is great! It's green, it recycles, and it makes your garden look great.
    this said...
    This post made me smile...I'm a tad compost phobic..its the whole science of composting that leaves me feeling like its in the too hard box...when really I'm making to much of a big deal out out of it.
    Anthony said...
    I'm glad some new readers found this Blog Action Day post. Welcome everyone.

    Waliz, the bottom of the pile is where the good stuff is so you'll have to dig for it. But it's still less work than say, going to the store and loading weed & feed bags in your trunk, then taking them home and spreading it all over you lawn.

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