Sustainable Gardening Through Composting 

In today’s world, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a guiding principle that shapes our actions and decisions. When it comes to gardening, there’s no better way to embrace sustainability than through composting, which nurtures gardens and contributes to a healthier planet. Here are three reasons you should start incorporating compost into your garden this summer to embrace a more sustainable way of living. 

Someone putting food scraps into their compost bin.

1. Composts Adds Nutrients to a Garden’s Soil 

If your neighborhood provides collects organic waste curbside, make sure to place all food scraps, including bones, shells, coffee grounds, fats, oils, and greases, into the designated bin, rather than the garbage or recycling. Waste management companies like Miller collect the waste and transport it to anaerobic digestion facilities, where it is “fed” to micro-organisms in large vats. The metabolic activity of these micro-organisms produces a liquid known as digestate that, when applied to land, acts a potent fertilizer, aiding the healthy growth of new crops. In this way, disposing of food and beverage scraps in your green bin represents a closed loop cycle: today’s waste powers the growth of tomorrow’s food source and so on.  

If your municipality does not currently collect organic waste curbside, you could make use of a backyard composter. Usually inexpensive to purchase, backyard composters are a great way to convert kitchen and yard waste into dark, nutrient-rich substance called humus. When applied to your garden, humus provides soil with an array of benefits: not only does it deliver potent doses of macro and micro-nutrients to plants, but it improves many aspects of soil structure, including its ability to resist erosion, run-off, and the growth of weeds. Humus also vastly improves soil’s ability to retain moisture, meaning that gardens infused with humus do not need to be watered as frequently.  

Most backyard composters function best when you place a layer of straw, leaves, and branch cuttings at the bottom to facilitate the movement of oxygen. Then, you can regularly add food scraps and plant waste to the pile, where naturally occurring micro-organisms will eat and digest the organic material, producing humus. 

As we’ve seen, humus is a wonderful alternative to traditional synthetic fertilizer, which is often made from chemicals that must be manually extracted from the earth in an energy-intensive process. Also, chemical fertilizers instantly deliver doses of nutrients to the soil, as opposed to humus which releases nutrients slowly over time. As such, it’s possible to harm plants with a toxic overdose of chemicals if you inadvertently apply too much syntenic fertilizer. 

2. Compost Helps Divert Waste from the Landfill 

From strawberry hulls to apple cores, seemingly unimportant food scraps hold tremendous value when tossed into the green bin or backyard composter instead of the garbage. By embracing proper composting practices, Canadians can divert a significant portion of re-usable waste from landfills: did you know that each ton of organic waste diverted through composting mitigates up to 12.5% of greenhouse gas emissions? 

Also, when organic waste decomposes alongside other forms of garbage in the landfill, it releases methane gas into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that some estimate to be 25 more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its negative impact on the planet. However, when organic waste decomposes in a controlled environment, such as an anaerobic digestion facility, we can capture the methane and use it as a sustainable source of energy instead of letting it escape into the atmosphere.  

For example, at Escarpment Renewables, Miller Waste’s anaerobic digestion facility in Grimsby, Ontario, we collect methane gas from vats where organic waste decomposes. The gas is burned in a combined heat and energy (CHP) engine to produce heat and electricity. We use the heat to pasteurize incoming organic waste and use the electricity to power the rest of the facility.   

Miller also feeds electricity produced at the Escarpment Renewables facility into the Ontario power grid under the provincial renewable feed-in tariff program. We can generate 1 megawatts of energy per year, which is enough to power 830 homes! 

3. Provides a Habitat for Earthworms and Other Insects 

Maintaining a healthy garden not only ensures lush plant growth but also attracts and nourishes insects and other organisms that help support life aboveground.  

Earthworms aerate the soil, improve drainage, and facilitate nutrient cycling through their burrowing activities and nutrient-rich castings. Similarly, millipedes love to feast on dead plant matter and return nutrients to the soil via the waste they produce. 

Earthworms in organic waste.

Other insects that consume the nutrients found in healthy soil pretty on common garden pests, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. By providing nutrient-rich soil through composting, you are creating a diverse community of soil-dwelling organisms and insects that can withstand environmental stresses while promoting sustainable gardening practices and biodiversity. 

In pursuing sustainable gardening practices, composting is the smartest choice, offering many benefits for the environment and garden health. Composting embodies the principles of environmental stewardship and resource conservation by diverting waste from landfills, enriching soil with essential nutrients, and fostering a thriving ecosystem. It also enriches the vibrancy of gardens while contributing to a greener and more resilient planet for generations to come. 

At Miller Waste Systems, we’re dedicated to fostering a sustainable future. We collect yard waste and transform it into reusable materials such as mulch, soil, top dressing, and compost. These products are packed with nutrients that enrich your soil, promoting healthier plants and a greener environment. If you are curious about Miller Compost and our services, visit our website.