Composting isn’t glamorous but neither is climate change – and compost has the potential to play a major role in combatting climate change.
But firstly, what is compost?
Compost is the controlled decomposition of organic waste into a natural fertiliser. Given time, all organic materials decompose, as various microorganisms consume and break them down into their constituent elements. Composting is when we actively manage this decomposition by creating optimum conditions for these microorganisms to thrive and transform this waste into a kind of super-charged soil, rich in nutrients and diverse microbial populations. Compost is a beautiful fusion of a naturally-occurring process with human ingenuity and an essential tool to tackle some of our major climate challenges.
Now, why should we compost?
Every year, we collectively produce over 1 billion tonnes from our households and another 2 billion from agriculture. When sent to landfill, it produces immense amounts of high-warming potential greenhouse gasses. Composting stops this by managing organic waste decomposition in a way that prevents both emissions and pollution.
Half of all the food we eat is grown using chemical fertilisers, non-renewable resources that are mined and manufactured. These fertilisers speed up crop growth but end up depleting soil of essential micronutrients, microorganisms and moisture, leading to chronic desertification, drought, famine and less efficient yields every single harvest. Studies have proven the end product of compost, super-charged soil, can completely restore any type of land to pre-agriculture quality.
An experiment conducted over almost two decades by the University of California found that by increasing the microbial load of soil, its capacity for carbon capture is significantly higher and more stable when compost is applied.
Finally, how can we compost?
There are countless ways to become a composter, no matter where you are.
For example, a community garden or neighbour down the road would welcome your waste in their compost or collection services from large recyclers and small social enterprises are undoubtedly offered in your area to pick up your organics. Click here to find out more about Community Composting Hubs around Brisbane.
Compost may not be the most common or conventional solution to climate change but it’s something that ordinary individuals like us can do to prevent the impact this waste has and utilise its full potential.
With compost, you can use your waste to stop our landfill pollution, save our soil and reduce our emissions. With compost, you can use your waste to change the world.
*This article is derived from Ashley Baxter’s 2021 TEDxUQ talk, ‘How your waste can change the world’. Watch the talk here.