Composting

What is composting?

It is a natural process of giving organic matter, like fruit and vegetable scraps, back to Earth. This organic matter is decomposed by microbes to form humus. Humus is a sort of fertilizer that enriches the soil and helps plants grow better.  

As opposed to the dead end that is landfills, composting creates a prosperous cycle: 

  • Earth grows plants and food → human eats food → human composts food scraps and plant matter → humus created and used as fertilizer → even healthier plants grow with more bountiful food

What are the benefits to the environment from composting?

Composting reduces waste in our landfills and the associated methane emissions. It also improves soil health, lessens erosion, and conserves water.

What can be composted?

At-home composting is more limited than industrial composting. Industrial composting can usually accept a wider variety of items. At home, you can compost: 

  • Fruit scraps 
  • Vegetable scraps 
  • Tea bags (without tag) 
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells 
  • Plant matter 

At home, do not compost meat or dairy as these materials do not decompose well and can attract pests. 

How can I start composting?

You need to start collecting compostable material and have somewhere where the composting can happen.  

To start collecting, you just need a container of some sort that can be kept in your kitchen for easy access to throw the scraps into. You can reuse an old container. If you want to keep any smell contained, aim to get a lid that seals tightly and empty often. If you are planning to compost at your house, you should also collect leaves and other plant matter (more on this below). 

Composting can happen naturally at its own pace or through a digestor that aids the composting process to speed it up. You can use a personal bin, a community compost bin, or a collection site that will take it to a composting facility.  

To create a compost bin in your yard, check out this article. 

There are also multiple collection sites for compost throughout Baltimore City. Locations include: 

  • JFX Farmer’s Market and Bazaar – Sunday, 7 am - 12 pm, April-December 
  • 32nd Street Farmer’s Market – Saturday, 7 am - 12 pm, open all year 
  • Northwest Transfer Station – Monday-Saturday, 7 am - 5 pm 
  • Sisson Street Drop-Off Center – Monday-Saturday, 9 am - 5 pm Labor Day to Memorial Day and 9 am - 7 pm Memorial Day to Labor Day 
  • Eastern Sanitation Yard – Monday-Saturday, 9 am - 5 pm Labor Day to Memorial Day and 9 am - 7 pm Memorial Day to Labor Day 
  • Western Sanitation Yard – Monday-Saturday, 9 am - 5 pm Labor Day to Memorial Day and 9 am - 7 pm Memorial Day to Labor Day 
  • Quarantine Road Landfill – Monday-Saturday, 9 am - 5 pm 

There is also a compost collection service called Compost Crew who can come pick up compost from your house/apartment. You can find more information on their website.

What do I need to know to compost well?

This is more important for you if you are maintaining your own compost bin at home. 

There are “greens” or “wet matter” that is essentially your compostable food. There are “browns” or “dry matter” that is your plant matter. You need a fairly even mix of the two to make healthy soil.  

If you see that your compost looks wet, add dry matter (alternative: lift off the lid). If it looks dry, add wet matter (alternative: spray it with water to dampen it). It’s as simple as that!  

You will need to turn it every now and then to aerate the compost and move the non-decomposed matter sitting at the top to the bottom.  

For the most part, it will just do its own thing! You do not have to do much to see the magic of composting happen, and that is the beauty of it. 

Check out the videos below that explain composting and how to do it at home: 

Beginner's Guide to Composting 

Composting for Beginners | The Dirt | Better Homes & Gardens 

The Bottom Line

Composting is easy (and not as gross as it seems, we promise!)  

Step 1: Collect food scraps + plant matter if composting at home 

Step 2: Decide how you want to compost: backyard, pick-up service, or drop-off 

Step 3: Feel good about yourself for doing something great for the environment