Written by Sarah Harrington
When you think of compost, what comes to mind? A small bin you keep under your sink that still smells like yesterday’s lunch (or maybe even last week’s dinner)? Or, if you read the recent CBC article on vermicomposting, perhaps a handful of wriggling worms?
Composting might have gotten a bad rap over the years, but as grocery costs climb ever upwards and the trend of patio gardens and eco-friendly living rises, it might be time to give composting another chance. It’s easy, doesn’t have to stink up your house, and can actually help your balcony tomatoes be even more bountiful! Here are five reasons why you should bring composting into your daily life.
If you’re wondering why Food for the Hungry is talking about composting instead of poverty alleviation, keep reading. The two are more related than you might think!
1) Composting reduces food waste (and your grocery bill!)
Did you know more than half of all food produced in Canada goes to waste? If that stat makes you think of that wilting lettuce sitting in the back of your crisper drawer, you’re not alone. Starting a composting habit Learning more about food waste encourages us all to think more about the food we’re buying and how we plan to use it, which can have the helpful side effect of grocery bill. But when food does go to waste, whether it’s that head of lettuce or some rubbery carrots that didn’t make it into your homemade soup, composting offers a “second life” for your leftovers. When you toss your food into the compost, that organic waste undergoes a transformation into nutrient-rich soil. If you use that compost to fertilize your balcony garden, you’ll also save money on your grocery bill by growing your own fresh produce!
2) Composting creates nutrient-rich soil, perfect for your plants
By simply adding compost to your garden or indoor plants (that succulent you’ve been ignoring!), your plants will reap all sorts of wonderful benefits like improved soil structure, moisture retention, and a reduced need for expensive fertilizers. A healthy covering of compost promotes growth and increases the size of a plant’s root ball by a dramatic amount! That makes for stronger plants and, if you’re talking about fruit or veggie-bearing plants, a more bountiful harvest!
3) Composting promotes biodiversity and supports wildlife
Composting isn’t just good for plants, it’s good for wildlife, too! By creating healthy soil, you provide a habitat for microorganisms, insects, worms, and other creatures that contribute to a healthy ecosystem. A healthy ecosystem means more birds, bees, and butterflies and a more diverse and resilient environment! Why is this important? Pollinators like bees and butterflies are the reason we have delicious fruits and veggies in the first place! Without their help, plants would bud, but never fruit. In fact, there’s a reason why a Hive of Honey Bees is the perfect gift to help a farmer thrive!
4) Composting is a cost-effective way to improve food security
You’ve probably realized by now that composting is a great way to grow stronger and more bountiful plants! But what does this look like in practice? For vulnerable families, composting can be a game changer when it comes to food security. Our partner communities have seen great success with composting as a form of natural fertilization. This is part of what we call restorative agriculture, which is a major component of FH trainings and workshops in our partner communities! We could all learn a thing or two from fathers like Chomm in Cambodia using natural techniques instead of harmful chemicals to boost his harvests and feed his family. Or farmers like Donathile in Rwanda, who used mulching and compost to transform a small family garden into a major veggie business that supports her children! These families and communities have embraced composting and restorative agriculture as a way to care for their land and grow more food than ever before. With bountiful harvests and extra income, communities are becoming more food resilient and self-sufficient!
5) Composting is easy and fun!
Contrary to popular belief, composting is quick to start and easy to maintain. In most cases, all you need is a proper compost bin; food scraps like fruit and veggie peels, eggshells, or coffee grounds; and some yard waste like leaves or grass clippings. If you’re an apartment dweller, check out the Bokashi method for a space-saving solution that works right in your kitchen. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, Metro Vancouver has an online guide for you on how to start composting with worms! No matter what method you use, over time, everything will break down into a nutrient-rich mixture that you can use to fertilize your potted plants or garden—just like families in our partner communities! Composting is a win-win for both the environment and your wallet, so what are you waiting for? Get started on your composting journey today.
6) Bonus! Composting plays a key role in the fight against the global food crisis
We’ve already hit five reasons, but here’s another truth. Global hunger is on the rise for the first time in decades, with one in 10 people not having enough to eat. This means kids are waking up hungry and going to bed hungry. It’s more important than ever that we come alongside families to help them grow their own food. With one gift, you can help hungry families learn techniques like composting, which will increase their harvests and put food on the table today and forever.
Will you join us in the fight against hunger?