According to a new study in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, composting food scraps results in 38 to 84 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than tossing them in landfills. Here on Oahu, we typically burn our waste at the H-power plant, but the findings of this study are still relevant.
In particular, the study finds that unlike trash in landfills, compost heaps are watered and turned, which aerates the decomposing waste and prevents bacteria from churning out as much methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
The study also doesn’t take into the additional benefit of what becomes of the compost once it is applied to the earth. Some estimates suggest that adding compost to an acre of land can sequester enough carbon to offset 75 percent of a car’s annual emissions. A broader description of the study can be found at Grist.
At Auntie’s house, we compost several ways. Food compost is composted using worm bins, quail waste and leaf matter is composted in the rotating composter. Both have their benefits, but worm bins are more practical for the average household.
Ultimately, both compost types end up back in the soil, nourishing the very plants which will feed and nourish us. To know that the permaculture process is so efficient is reassuring.