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Give Your Business a Green Thumb

By September 13, 2011Blog, Member News

Composting has been around since the time of the Romans. For thousands of years, people have used compost to help fertilize and keep pests away from the crops. This ancient method is getting a 21st Century upgrade so that everyone can be an environmentally conscious composter. Compost is a natural fertilizer and pesticide, so there will not be a need to purchase and store dangerous chemicals for plants again. As businesses look for ways to go green, they need to consider how they handle their waste. Recycling can deal with the items that do not decompose, and composting can help minimize what goes to the landfill. A business can use the compost as fertilizer for the lawn, flower baskets, and indoor plants. On a bigger scale, they can create an employee garden or a reclamation project on the site. Reward your employees for their efforts and allow them to take some home for their home gardens. The planet and your employees will benefit.

How Do You Compost?
Compost consists of many components, but the two largest are carbon and nitrogen. The general consensus is that the compost pile needs a ratio of 30 to 1 for amount of carbon materials to nitrogen materials. Every item has its own carbon:nitrogen ratio, and can be reviewed on a number of websites. The best path to take would be to find out what the trash at the office is typically composed of. Are there more cardboard boxes from microwave lunches, or more fruit and vegetables from homemade lunches? Grass clippings and autumn leaves can also be used in the compost pile along with cardboard packing boxes, shredded paper, fruits, vegetables, and even coffee and tea grounds. Meats and other protein products like bones, fish, and hair should never be used in a compost pile because they cause odor and bad types of bacteria for plants.

Photo from instructables.com

What Type of Composting?
The oldest and most traditional way of composting, and the smelliest, is creating a boxed area, open to the ground. Compost materials would be constantly added to the pile, with water. The pile would have to be hand mixed and aerated. This requires extra attention to ensure the proper temperature and moisture level is maintained. This process takes several months to a year, but can produce a large amount of compost in the end. Compost can also be retrieved from the bottom of the pile as the rest of the material is still being worked.
There are several composters that are designed to be sealed and then either rotated by manual or electronic methods. These modern composters are plastic containers and many are the size of a 55 gallon drum and can produce useable compost in a little more than a month.
The latest composters come in the size of a kitchen sized garbage can. These composters are electronic and use a special chemical mix to get the process going. The more compact units use a mechanical rotator to keep the mixture rotating and some even have their own heat source to keep the compost at the proper temperature. These produce compost in as little as two weeks, however, make smaller batches, only good enough for a few indoor plants at time.

Indoor Composter in GBB Blog
Photo from wired.com

Put It Within Reach
A composter would fit perfectly into a building’s trash room. A garbage can of shredded paper and torn pieces of cardboard can be stored there on the way to disposal. Once food scraps are brought down, then the scraps and paper products can be layered in the composter. If the building does not have a trash room or the odor impacts the offices too easily, then a quiet corner of a parking lot could be used. Keeping the composter close to the building will help ensure its use. Remember that if it is out of sight, then it is out of mind.
The extra effort taken by all the employees and janitorial staff will be well worth not having to purchase pesticides and fertilizers and then storing them in a chemical cabinet. Everyone will get the satisfaction of helping to save the planet and having a composter at work is one more step towards a business reaching a green status.

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