Reduce and reuse
Composting 101: Celebrating National Composting Week
Consider this: every year we send millions of tons of food waste and yard clippings to landfills that could otherwise be composted. This week, local event production company Green Fern Events (GFE) is offering tips on composting to the next generation of conservationists in honor of National Composting Week which was May 6-12.
Green Fern Events (GFE) is a leading sustainable events management company offering a variety of professional services to the meetings and events industry. “The events industry is by nature transient and wasteful. GFE aims to evoke positive change regarding best practices in sustainability for the events industry worldwide.We believe that going green is no longer a choice but a matter of social, economic, and environmental responsibility," says GFE President and Founder Emily Kahn.
"We believe that going green is no longer a choice but a matter of social, economic, and environmental responsibility."
Additionally, with composting being one of their core service offerings, GFE is celebrating its new contract with the US Composting Council on the composting, wood waste and organics recycling industry's largest conference and exhibition in North America. Last year’s conference, held here in Austin, attracted nearly 1,000 attendees from 44 states or territories and 13 countries. The conference successfully diverted 640 pounds of compost and 1340 pounds of recyclables away from Austin-area landfills, making it a “zero waste event.”
One of GFE's signature services is providing clients with post-event metrics and measurements that illustrate just how much waste was diverted from landfills as a result of their recycling and food composting efforts. “It is great PR for any company or organization,” says Kahn. “As the saying goes, ‘what gets measured gets managed.’” Kahn also educates groups and businesses on the monetary benefits of having green events. “It’s a common misconception that having a green event is an expensive event, but here we have a non-profit trade organization (US Composting Council) hiring a small business to ensure that going green won’t cost them more money. Even though GFE works with many companies in the sustainable business world, you don’t have to be a green company to have a green event,” says Kahn.
- replenishes nutrients from food waste back into food-growing Earth
- improves soil pH
- provides beneficial microorganisms to the soil which helps suppress plant diseases
- improves soil structure to make a better environment for roots and prevents erosion
- manages moisture by reducing need for irrigation
- creates more drought resistance
- mitigates climate change
- reduces water pollution through pollution prevention, bioremediation, and stormwater management
How to get started: Composting 101**
- Start in the Summer: Since composting requires temperatures upwards of 120 degrees, starting your first compost pile in the summer months is recommended.
- Leave the bugs alone: Most bugs and worms are beneficial to your compost pile, so avoid the temptation to kill them with any pesticides that would alter the composition of the compost.
- Give it a week to work: Once it’s ready, you can mix compost to your garden bed soil a week or so before you plant.
- No Meat, no pet waste: Vegetables, fruits, and yard waste only.
- Turn it to burn it: Turning your pile catalyzes the breakdown and conversion of nutrients.
- Damp, not wet: Don’t let your pile dry out; add water as needed.
Here's a Kid-friendly composting activity
Cut a recycled 2 or 3 liter bottle in half and fill the bottom portion 1/4 way up with water (enough to immerse the upturned other half). Turn the top half of the bottle upside down and place two wicking strips in the bottom, then fill it with damp, soil-less potting mix and a handful of organic fertilizer. You can plant seeds or start with a seedling and water from the top. The wicking fabric will pull water up to the plant, conserving water.