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General News · 17th May 2020
Maureen Williams ND
This is the first in a series of compost information articles.
Brought to you by ~ Cortes Island Composts ~
(Maureen Williams, Whitney Vanderleest, Phil Hey, and Kate Maddigan)

Why Compost?

Compost is formed through the natural process of breaking down organic matter into its molecular and nutrient parts by bacteria, fungi, worms, and other organisms. This type of de-compos-ition happens, without human intervention, all the time. When we compost our kitchen and garden scraps, we are collecting the molecular and nutrient parts of these organic substrates, building a reservoir that we can use to grow new plants with intention.

Another benefit of composting is reduced greenhouse gas production. Composting harnesses the digestive activity of aerobic (oxygen-dependent) organisms, and results in production of heat, water, and carbon dioxide; decomposition of organic matter in the landfill is mostly anaerobic (oxygen-free) and creates not only carbon dioxide but also methane, which is estimated to be 25 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.

Here on Cortes, diverting organics away from the landfill could reduce hauling fees, leaving more money in the coffer to boot. It could also reduce plastic waste from bringing bagged soil amendments onto the island.

Why Not Compost?

Many people on Cortes compost, but a garbage audit commissioned by the SRD last fall showed many do not. In fact, the audit found 49% of our Island’s trash is made up of organic material! (this was mostly food waste and yard clippings, but also included paper towels and tissues, paper packaging, and other paper products)

One common reason for not composting is concern about rats and other potential pests. However, a properly built composter that has the right compostables in it and is attended to regularly does not harbour rats any more than your properly maintained garbage system. Similarly, a proper compost system is not malodorous and might even help you keep your garbage less smelly. We are investigating ways to increase the availability of appropriately made compost bins on the island, including having a build-your-own workshop, enlisting an entrepreneur to build some to sell to islanders, and getting an order together to buy pre-made bins off-island. More on this soon.

Another reason people cite for not composting is it’s not as easy as putting organic waste right into the trash. We would like to offer some simple ways to keep your organics out of your garbage.

Getting Started

The simplest way to keep your organics out of your trash is to take it to your neighbors! To that end, we are interested in partnering experienced composters who have extra capacity with neighbors who have compostable trash they don’t want to use themselves. Details on that initiative will be published next week. We are also taking advantage of extra home-time to develop informational articles about topics such as:
• how to compose your compost – what goes in, what stays out, and how to keep things balanced.
• trench composting – a relatively simple for composting method that can even accommodate meat scraps and other materials that don’t usually go in a compost bin.
• vermiculture – keeping worms to do your composting.
• composting systems – we’ll provide some examples of excellent compost bins, with diy plans, as well as resources for getting pre-made bins.

And that’s just the beginning! Look for these and more here on the Tideline…
And let us know what you’re especially interested in!

photo by normanack, By normanack - document.write('@');N00/2457055952/" target="_blank" class="urlHot" >, CC BY 2.0,