Composting 101: What it is & Why it’s Important
You may have heard of composting before and how it can be beneficial to the environment, but what exactly does it mean to compost? Composting is a way to recycle food and other organic waste. Doing this can provide benefits such as enriching the soil, reducing greenhouse emissions and of course, putting to use waste that would otherwise just be sent to the landfill.
While composting can be done by individuals at home, it can also be practiced by businesses - which can have a great impact on communities. That is why at Bohemian Bull we are committed to composting. Before we get into how we compost, let’s go over the basics - including what exactly composting is, types of composting, why it’s done and more.
What is Composting?
With the increased interest in composting, it’s easy to think that this is something new, but composting is actually a process that happens naturally. Composting is the natural process of breaking down and recycling organic matter. Organic matter, from fallen leaves to food scraps, can be composted, or recycled, and transformed into a nutrient-dense fertilizer that can then be used to enrich plants and soil.
Anything that grows from the earth is going to naturally decompose overtime, so composting is really just the act of speeding up this process by making the environment ideal for decomposing organisms, like bacteria, fungi and even worms and nematodes. These organisms speed up decomposition and therefore composting. After everything has decomposed, you’ll be left with what farmers refer to as “black gold” - a super fertile, nutrient-rich matter that looks like garden soil.
Types of Composting
Composting can be done by commercialized institutions equipped for dealing with high volumes of waste, or it can be done right at home. There are two main types of composting that are typically done at home and those are passive, or cold, composting and active, or hot, composting.
Like its name suggests, this type of composting takes a longer amount of time, but also requires less maintenance and effort. Like we mentioned earlier, all organic matter will naturally decompose over time, so passive composting leverages that natural process. Passive composting is sometimes referred to as cold composting, because it does not reach high temperatures like active composting. This means that you do not have to monitor the temperature or moisture levels, but it also means that potentially harmful pathogens will not be killed off and may remain once your compost is ready.
On the other hand, active composting is a much faster, more controlled process, because it is a lot more hands-on and less about letting nature take its course. This form of composting requires close attention be paid to carbon, nitrogen, air and water levels in order to maintain an optimum ratio for decomposition. Since this method utilizes high temperatures, it’s likely that any remaining plant diseases, pesticides, weeds and bug larvae or eggs will be destroyed in your final product. Another benefit to this type of composting method is that you will have your compost much sooner - in less than 3 months, versus one to two years.
Benefits of Composting
One of the biggest benefits of composting is that it can recycle much of the organic waste we generate. Almost one third of what we throw away is food scraps and garden waste. While you may think the organic material you put in the garbage each year isn’t much, it can really add up. Food waste is proving to be a burden on not only the environment, but our landfills as well. Each year billions are spent on waste management, so composting can help take some of the strain off this system and our environment while producing something that has a practical use.
Another benefit to composting is that it can significantly improve the health of our soil. Compost contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus - three critical nutrients that crops need to grow and thrive, along with other beneficial nutrients like zinc, magnesium and calcium. Compost can serve as an impactful alternative to man-made fertilizers, and it’s been shown that compost can even help with soil’s water retention and resiliency.
That brings us to another benefit of composting. When soil has more water retention, less of it is required to grow plants and crops. Irrigation systems are currently the go-to for farmers and gardeners, but these require a lot of water as well as time and money to manage. Compost helps promote healthier soil, reducing the amount of water needed, while improving the quality of crops grown.
Composting at Bohemian Bull
We’re not only a farm to table restaurant, we also take a lot of pride in being a “table to farm” restaurant as well. By practicing composting in house, we’re able to redirect a lot of waste that would otherwise go to a landfill and put it to good use. On average, Bohemian Bull composts about 1.5-2 tons of waste per month - that’s a lot of waste staying out of our landfills!
For businesses, composting can save money by not having to pay for as many dumpster pickups, but it also helps the community that business is in by saving space in landfills for items that can’t be composted. Rather than using disposable paper and boxes for our to-go food, we utilize compost-friendly paper and boxes. Many people don’t realize it, but while regular paper and boxes can typically be recycled, that is no longer the case once they are soiled with food waste so they must be sent to landfills instead. That is why we utilize compost-friendly materials so that all of our disposable to-go bags, straws, boxes and dinnerware can be composted rather than thrown in the garbage.
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