by Rashidah Omotola AbdulQuadri/Nigeria
Edited by Michael Yap T.K./Malaysia
Graphic Cover by Chee Siang Teoh/ATO-ClimatEducate Project
The International Compost awareness week is a widely celebrated initiative in many countries, which started in Canada in 1995. This initiative aimed to raise awareness of the need and importance of composting, thus encouraging everyone to be in it everywhere, from households, workplaces, schools, and organisations, to recognise the benefits and long–term positive contributions of composting.
The theme of the International Compost Awareness Week varies from year to year, and the agreed theme for 2021 is: “Grow, Eat… COMPOST…Repeat”. This theme is extraordinary, especially when the world is battling the scourge of climate change, and any solutions or ideas that help in cutting back the release of greenhouse gases is a big welcome.
Composting is an example of reducing, reusing, and recycling food waste, which reduces greenhouse emissions from anaerobic decomposition in the landfill. It is a promising way of combating climate change.
Fortunately, this is something anyone anywhere can partake in and will go a very long way. This theme gives a circular movement of how recycling flows from farm to table and return to the farm again. It is an integral part of creating healthier soils, producing more nutritious foods without chemical fertiliser residue and ultimately creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly world.
What is Composting?
Composting is a natural method of decomposing organic matter or wastes such as leaves, food scraps into simpler organic and inorganic compounds. It is a process of recycling different organic materials, usually called waste products. Composting transforms those waste matter into nutrient-rich humus, which is beneficial to plant growth and soil organisms.
Food and yard wastes together usually make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away, and these can be turned into compost. Composting goes a long way in reducing the number of materials that end up in landfills. They take up a lot of space and release very harmful and potent greenhouse gas, such as methane, into the environment.
At its simplest level, composting requires a mix of 'Greens' and 'Browns'. Greens are materials rich in nitrogen, such as leaves, grass, and food scraps. Browns are more woody materials rich in carbon like stalks, paper, and wood chips. The materials are wetted to break them down into humus, which occurs over months.
Several food scraps can be turned into compost, such as fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, nutshells, shredded newspaper, papers, yard trimmings, grass, houseplants, leaves, cotton /wool, ashes, cardboard etc.
Benefits of composting
Composting contributes great values to our soils and environment and promotes healthy foods for our nourishment. It provides an ecologically responsible method for recycling our organic waste from composting from back yards, community composting, on-farm composting, or large-scale commercial composting.
Interestingly, composting ensures that waste is cut back right from the farms, markets, and households and return nutrient-rich compost to the soils. We should learn how to compost and educate others on the benefit of composting. A healthier soil, healthier foods, and sustainable living are possible if we all; Grow, Eat…COMPOST and Repeat.
Rashidah Omotola AbdulQuadri has a bachelor in Biochemistry and a master in Public Health. She is currently the Web and Social Media coordinator for Africa for ATO-ClimatEducate Project. Also, the media and communications manager of Center For Early Green Education and Team Lead, Social Media for African Clean Up Initiative. Rashidah is an advocate for universal health coverage, quality water, sanitation and hygiene, and the SDGs.