SPECIAL SEC TION
GET THE MOST
BY CHRISTINA GUERRERO
FOOD SCRAPS and yard waste currently
make up ;; to ;; percent of what is thrown
in the trash, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; epa.gov).
These materials not only take up space but
also release methane, a potent greenhouse
gas, when they decompose in landfills.
Check with your local waste disposal
company for food scraps and yard waste
collection. But also consider recycling
these materials at home by creating compost, an organic material that can be added
to soil to help plants grow. The Connection
spoke to Costco’s compost bin suppliers for
tips on two easy composting options.
Aerated composting begins with
a designated space in your yard for a large
compost pile or bin. Collect and combine
a mixture of organic matter (see illustra-
tion on page ;;), including moist green
materials, which are nitrogen-rich, and
dry brown materials, which are carbon-
rich. (In these systems, don’t compost
meat, fat, bones, dairy products, invasive
plants or weeds, such as poison ivy.)
Add regular garden dirt, which contains microbes (bacteria and fungi) that
break do wn plant matter. “Composters are
simply an attempt to harness this
natural process of rot and decay in a controlled setting so we can use the nutri-ent-rich compost ourselves,” says Brent
Milley, e-commerce specialist for Forest
City Models in Ontario, Canada, one of
Costco’s compost bin suppliers.
Good airflow is important because
the microbes need oxygen, Milley says.
Spinning or mixing ensures all parts of the
compost are receiving oxygen so you won’t
end up with stagnant areas.
Costco members will ;nd a selection of
composters on Costco.com and other lawn
and garden supplies seasonally in the
warehouse and year-round on Costco.com.
The right amount of moisture is also
important to the composting process. If
you squeeze a handful of compost and it
crumbles apart, it’s too dry and you should
add wet green material or water. If you
squeeze a handful of compost and liquid
drips through your fingers, it’s too wet and
you should add more dry materials.
“If you can squeeze it and it holds
together nicely, [like] a little snowball,
then you know your moisture level is right
where it needs to be,” Milley says.
A worm composting bin, known as a
vermicomposter, can be used indoors or
outdoors. It is ideal indoors for those who
don’t have available outdoor space or who
live in environments that become too cold
in the winter for composting outdoors,
says Milley, who has a vermicomposter in
his home and an aerated composter in his
backyard. Vermicomposters house small
worms, such as red wigglers, which eat
their bedding and food scraps, converting
it into incredibly rich compost made up
of black worm castings (worm poop)
known as “black gold.”
Left: The Thermo Star 1000 Composter
(Item #984073 on Costco.com) was designed
for larger yards or large volumes of leaves.
Below: The Hot Frog Living Composter
(Item #1175236 on Costco.com) vermicomposter houses red wiggler worms.
PHOTO COURTESY EXACO TRADING CO.