The first item on the agenda was called "Landfills and the Law." Rick informed us that technically speaking, compostable items can't be thrown into landfills. Well, that's news to me!
I also learned there's a delicate chemical balance that must occur for optimal decomposition. To achieve a stink-free and happy compost, carbon and nitrogen levels must be in harmony. (It's a 30:1 carbon-nitrogen ratio.)
I like how Rick characterized this ratio: Think browns for carbon, and greens for nitrogen**.
He gave us some examples, too:
- Greens: food wastes, grass clippings, egg shells, coffee grounds, chicken/horse/cow poo
- Browns: leaves, straw, bark, paper (newspaper, too), fruit wastes
And here are a couple of no-no's:
- No dog or cat poo*, meat or oils
This carbon-nitrogen balance is important because we need as many critters as possible to eat the compost pile. And those critters like to eat carbon (for energy) and nitrogen (for protein)!
Ok, I think I'm mentally prepared for this new lifestyle change. A friend of mine is giving me his old composting bin tomorrow, so that's when I'll officially join the compost revolution! :0)
*In case you're wondering why horse poo is ok, but dog poo is not, Rick informed us that dogs & cats lack a pathogen system, which is a compost problem because the temperature of the pile (90-140F) isn't hot enough to kill those pathogens. (Pathogens are killed at 160F.)
**This post was edited on 5-14-07 for accuracy. (Thanks P~)