Let’s Talk about Composting

compost on saplings

By creating it, you’ll have less garbage to haul to the transfer station. You will reduce your town’s transfer station costs by reducing the amount and weight of trash hauled to the landfill. You’ll extend the life of the landfill where you take your trash. By using it, your plants will thrive. And you will help protect Lincoln County’s natural resources by improving the soil, air, and water. What is it?


The first full week of May is International Compost Awareness Week, the largest and most comprehensive education initiative of the compost industry. Lincoln County Recycling Center’s (LCRC) food scrap composting program describes composting as nature’s way of recycling. Through a natural process, organic material, such as food scraps, leaf, and yard waste, decomposes into nutrient-rich compost that energizes soil when added to it, increasing the health and vibrancy of gardens. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency informs us that compost enriches soils by increasing the nutrient content in soils, helping retain moisture, and suppressing plant diseases for higher crop yields. It helps clean up contaminated soil by absorbing odors and degrading pesticides and other chemicals. By composting food scraps instead of sending them to a landfill, compost avoids the production of methane that pollutes the air. When spread along stream banks and in other areas prone to erosion, it can reduces. Using compost offers economic benefits by reducing the need for water, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides in gardens. It can be used as a low cost landfill cover and extends the life of landfills, ultimately saving your tax dollars.

Separating and storing the ingredients of compost, especially when it comes to food scraps, can be icky, but the benefits of compost noted above far outweigh the “ick factor.” There is a wide range of ingredients, containers, and methods suitable for those with small in-town gardens, large suburban and rural gardens, and farms. A lot of us associate compost with food gardens, but it’s a valuable soil additive for all plants, including flowers, trees, bushes, landscaping plants, and house plants. Gardeners refer to it as black gold. Even if you don’t use the end product on your property, you can still donate your food scraps or finished compost to a gardening friend, a community garden, or the food scrap dumpsters at LCRC and the Wiscasset transfer station.

In a series of upcoming Talkin’ Trash columns, I will discuss composting basics for those new to composting and share lessons learned from veteran composters.

By Linda Shaffer, PWA Member 

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