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Can compost help solve climate change?

Looking after our soils can be one of our biggest defences in the fight against climate change. One of the best ways to take care of our soils is to nourish them with compost.

What’s the issue?

We are currently wasting much of the materials that we could be using to feed our soils, by throwing away our food scraps and other organic waste. 

According to the 2019 Drawdown report, reducing food waste could stop 87 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from entering the atmosphere by 2050.

To put this into perspective, the average carbon footprint per person in the UK is 12.7 tonnes per year. With the population standing at around 66.65 million in 2019, reducing food waste globally has the same impact as removing the emissions from the British population for over one thousand years. 

“Using composts and other soil amendments can help both climate and people” 

When we put food waste in our bins it ends up in landfill, where it decays in a low oxygen environment to produce methane - 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. The nutrients are wasted. 

If done correctly, composting food waste won’t produce methane in this way, which translates also to large reductions in CO2 emissions too. The Drawdown report calculated that we could avoid 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2050 through composting alone (Source: Drawdown). Composting helps divert food and other organic waste from landfill, avoiding harmful emissions. It also helps to produce valuable soil products for healthier soils, which not only store carbon but makes them more productive and resilient. 

How to compost correctly

Meat, fish and dairy products together with any cooked food should be put into your food waste collection, but it’s easy to make compost at home out of your fruit and vegetable peelings. 

It’s important that your compost doesn’t consist of just vegetable waste as it tends to be wet and easily compacted. Without a balance of soft green materials and woody brown materials it will most likely turn anaerobic and produce methane, as air isn’t easily allowed to pass through the pile. 

Adding biochar to your compost

Most people find the task of emptying their kitchen caddy into their garden compost bin unpleasant. To overcome this, every time you add to your kitchen caddy, also add some biochar. This will absorb most of the unpleasant smell as well as absorb the liquid. 

But that isn’t the only benefit of using biochar in composting. 

Introducing the Co-Composting concept. When you add biochar into the composting process from the start it dramatically increases the quality of the finished compost product. Your compost will reach higher temperatures in a shorter space of time as the microbes find refuge inside the pores of the biochar enabling them to multiply. More microbes mean faster composting! It also absorbs methane emissions making your compost produce less greenhouse gas. It’s a win-win.

Buy organic biochar here, or for avid gardeners, consider investing in a biochar kiln to make your own at home. 

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