Compost is the single most important supplement you can feed your garden soil.

Home composting – a home-based recycling system that manages waste and creates a useful, beneficial product – is an easy way to give back to the earth while promoting a zero waste household.

With about 30 per cent of our waste being food scraps and garden waste, home composting gives us a means to reduce the discards going into our garbage cans and landfills. Since composting at home is a hands-on approach to dealing with discarded organic material, it offers a unique opportunity to identify areas where you can avoid waste generation. Seeing not just peelings, but whole uneaten fruits and vegetables going into the compost bin, can trigger needed adjustments in shopping habits and storage methods.

If you have children, home composting creates opportunities to teach about cycles of life and food chains. Children can see the leaves from the apple tree and the apple peelings make compost that will feed the apple tree.

For the gardener, compost has many benefits from enriching soil to enhancing plant health and garden sustainability. Compost naturally replenishes nutrients to the soil helping to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. Having a healthy growing medium that helps to suppress plant diseases and pests also reduces the need to use toxic chemical pesticides. Using compost in the garden helps to retain moisture so water can be conserved. And, if you grow your own food in a garden supplemented by compost, you automatically reduce a substantial amount of supermarket packaging to recycle.

Compost does not have to stink! Just like recipes in cooking it is all about the ingredients, and like first time efforts you may need to make some adjustments before you find the perfect mix. Every mix must have “browns” which are the carbon rich materials like woodchips, leaves and branches, balanced with “greens” which provide nitrogen – grass clippings and food scraps. The recipe and ratio of green or brown will depend on the home composting method used. There are lots of recipes and advice for novice composters online including great information at The Compost Council of Canada.

You do not need acreage to compost or even an outdoor space; in fact  many individuals compost in their apartments or in flower pots on their balconies. There are indoor composting machines and worm composting can be done in small spaces.  Home composting can use a simple pot or a pile in the corner. It can be a homemade or repurposed container like a freezer composter or a barrel. It can be a purchased composting unit (and if bears are an issue, an animal-resistant unit like the Jora™ has proven very effective). There are composters for all needs – even for composting dog poop, although the final product is not something to be put on or near where food is grown.

With such a variety of home composting options available, identifying the household’s needs is a good place to start. Think about what you would like to compost and don’t get detoured by any challenges you may face.

Home composting is a great way to create a green footprint.