Composting vs Recycling

Photo by Camila Jacques on Unsplash

At Recycled & Renewed, we love recycling but we also love composting.  Whereas a percentage of what you put in your recycling can actually gets recycled (it ranges based on material), I know for a fact that 100% of the waste I put in my compost stays out of a landfill.

But how much does composting actual help the environment and how does it compare to recycling?

Composting Statistics – 600 lbs of Waste!

Composting diverts your waste from the landfill, but how does a few vegetable scraps in a really help the environment? I think you’ll be surprised at how much it impacts your household trash.

According to the EPA, U.S. citizens diverted about 0.45 pounds per person per day for composting (compared to 1.13 pounds per person per day for recycling).

Based on the estimates of our composting, we are amazingly close to EPA’s estimate!

We weighed our compost over a two week period and extrapolated for the year. Our compost weighed in at about 11 pounds of waste per week. That equals almost 600 pounds of waste per year!

Importance of Composting

The environmental benefits of composting are significant. And when you compare the benefits to the cost, they are even more impressive.

Composting is easy and in a weird way, kind of fun. For me, it was amazing to see how quickly and efficiently nature disposes of its waste. The contrast with our human approach is stark – bury your trash and wait a few hundred years versus composting organic waste in a few weeks. Plus, the output of the landfill process is toxic juices and climate crashing gases. The output from composting is soil for a more beautiful garden.

Composting has the following benefits to our earth:

  • Organic waste in landfills generates, methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting wasted food and other organics, methane emissions are significantly reduced.
  • Compost reduces and in some cases eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Compost enhances water retention in soils.
  • Compost provides carbon sequestration.

The Amazing Efficiency of Composting

About ten years ago I was introduced to composting by my amazing older sister, Meg, otherwise fondly known as the Creative Vegetable Gardener.  Meg, the owner of a gardening and lifestyle blog, is an expert gardener, food preserver, public speaker, sustainable living guru, and all around inspiring sibling.  

When Jess and I graduated from studio apartments and bought our first house in Washington DC, we began gardening in some soil that hadn’t been tilled in what seemed like 50 years.  Meg suggested getting a compost bin (like this one made of 100% recycled plastic) as a way to have a continual source of nutrients to enrich our soil.

Composting opened my eyes to the astounding efficiency and minimal waste of natural processes.  Nature deals with its waste in such an amazing way – there is no waste! Your compost bin is basically a mini ecosystem, recycling your biodegradable waste, step by step, into the ingredients necessary for enriched soil, and thus helping to grow more plants and more life.  

Throw in a napkin, a ripped up pizza box, any veggie or fruit scrap, plant-based sponges, tea bags (with the strings), and everything just magically disappears!  Except one thing – plastic.

The one thing I always found left over in the bin during my springtime routine of soil harvesting was the little plastic stickers they put on fruit and veggies in the supermarket.  It didn’t matter how long they were left in there. They never broke down. They were the only piece of true waste in all that garbage I threw in, the wrench in my little super efficient system!