You Can Compost!
Composting is a great lifelong practical life lesson. Turning food waste into fertile soil is a magical process to observe in your own home, and sending it off to the city compost pile helps all sorts of local farmers and gardeners in need!
Start or support a backyard or city compost pile with the whole family
If it comes from the earth, it can be returned to the earth.
Choose from: paper products (see below), cut hair, leftovers, grass, fruits, vegetables, meat, bones, dairy, eggshells, coffee grounds
1. Decide if you will make your own compost pile or support the city’s. Here’s a resource for making a DIY backyard pile with things you probably have on hand. This is the one we use in Athena classrooms if you’d rather purchase a tiny one with a carbon filter. It doesn’t have to be fancy – my compost is a simple bucket topped with a lid (with holes)- it goes right under my sink!
2. Fill ‘er up! Gather organic materials to add to your new pile by looking to your own backyard, kitchen, produce drawer, and on your plate after a meal.
3. Invite your child to use their favorite pair of scissors or wavy chopper/butter knife to help you cut your materials into smaller bits. Thumb-sized pieces are a good rule to follow, especially with a home bin!
4. If your lawn is looking a bit bushy from the rain, you could give it a “haircut” and add the grass clippings, which also speed up decomposition.
5. Sit back and check out all the cool mold (white and green is completely normal), “turn” or stir weekly… once it’s decomposed fully, use as fertilizer for the happiest garden ever!
Here is a link to “Compost Stew: A-Z” by Mary McKenna Siddals being read aloud – a great book discussing all things compost-friendly.
If your neighborhood picks up a green compost bin, you can throw in pretty much any organic material. This includes meat, bones, and dairy. If you’re working on a home compost in a tub or bin, it’s probably best to stick with just produce, clippings, and paper products as they often don’t get hot enough.
Plain cardboard boxes, newspaper, pencil shavings, toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, and cardboard egg cartons are usually safe to use in any compost heap. In fact, they really help speed the food’s decomposition along and are nitrogen-fixing!
Black mold or an unpleasant odor could mean your pile does not have enough ventilation or is too wet. You could add more grass clippings and dried material to help this issue!