During the winter months, it can seem difficult to live sustainably and contribute to helping protect the environment. It may seem as though the colder it gets, the fewer options there are for staying “green”.
There are actually lots of ways that each one of us can continue to make environmentally friendly choices during winter months. Shopping at stores that sell locally grown, winter hardy produce is a great way to support the local economy and decrease your carbon footprint. Turning the thermostat down and bundling up while indoors is an easy way to save energy and money. One of the easiest things you can do during the winter months is compost your food scraps.
Composting is the process of turning biodegradable materials, such as food scraps and plant matter into a nutrient rich humus that can be added to soil. Composting is essential to being able to have a healthy and successful garden. Once the biodegradable matter has decomposed into a soil like material, it is added to the garden to increase the soil health. Adding compost to a garden’s soil aids in soil aeration, water infiltration, and overall nutrient richness. The health of a garden’s plants starts with the quality of the soil.
West Chester University’s Outdoor Classroom and Demonstration Garden has several composting bins that serve the campus garden. Plant matter, food scraps, and other biodegradable materials are added to the compost bins throughout the year. A diverse mix of food scraps is the best for producing a nutrient rich compost. The bins are regularly turned and mixed to produce a finished compost that can be added to the garden beds.
During the winter months, the rate at which compost can be produced slows down due to the cold weather. It may seem as though there is no decomposition going on but at the center of the pile temperatures are still high enough to keep the decomposition in progress.
The garden on campus is always in need of more compost for the current and next growing seasons. The success of the composting bins relies heavily on a contribution of biodegradables from people on campus and in the community.
An easy way to help add to the compost bins is to save food scraps and light paper materials in a Tupperware container. The container should be emptied in the compost bins once a week or whenever filled to capacity. The compost bins are located in the Outdoor Classroom in-between Merion Science Center and the Planetarium. Adding to the compost during winter ensures that there will be a bountiful and healthy harvest in the summer and fall.
Do Add: vegetables and food scraps, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags and leaves, fresh grass clippings, plant trimmings from your garden, houseplants, egg and nut shells, paper, newspaper, paper towels, and paper tubes.
Don’t add: meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, oily or greasy foods, bones, dog or cat waste, diseased plants, seeds of weedy plants, or anything treated with pesticides.
James Vadas is a third-year student majoring in Geography and Planning. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.