What is compost?

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Did you know that our Earth came with its own type of recycling program?

“Compost” refers to a type of natural recycling. All organic, natural materials have the ability to break down into nutrient-rich soil, and this soil is often called compost! 

Materials that can be composted consist of basically anything that was once living, such as tree leaves, food scraps, grass clippings, and even cardboard or paper. The bacteria and fungi that naturally occur in these types of organic items do a lot of work to naturally break down these things as they decay. Worms can also really help – certain kinds of worms will eat some of the items in the compost pile and then excrete it back out as “castings,” which are even closer to ready-to-use soil!   

However, even biodegradable materials such as the food we throw away, can't break down in landfills. There is not enough oxygen. That's why we need to compost.

And of course, a pile of compost doesn’t turn into soil overnight. Most compost is ready within a few months, though it depends on what’s in the pile – sometimes it might take more or less time. Soil made from compost is considered very good for growing most plants – it’s full of natural nutrients, it prevents the need for chemical fertilizers, and it recycles things that would otherwise be garbage!  

Composting club!
Ask the grown-ups in your family if you can start your own compost pile. There are lots of instructions and helpful tips that you can find online for easy composting.

A lot of people keep their compost in their backyard, but did you know that you can have compost in your house even without yard? If you live in an apartment or you don’t have very much outdoor space, look for tips and ideas on indoor composting! Or check for dates when your local farmers market collects your food scraps. 

By Mya Kagan (Whyzz writer)

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