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Composting – The Next Step in Recycling! International Compost Awareness Week is May 4 to May 10, 2008

Release Date: 05/01/2008
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith 215-814-5543 /smith.bonnie@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (May 1, 2008) -- Are you ready for free fertilizer and a soil conditioner that will give your flowers and vegetables a boost? Then break out the compost bin.

For people who recycle regularly and are looking for ways to reduce their household waste even further, composting is the sensible next step. Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of waste to send to landfills especially when you could put it to good use in your garden.

Tea bags, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peels, pet hair, dryer lint, egg shells, leaves, and grass clippings – almost any organic materials -- can be thrown into the compost pile.

You can get started quickly and easily. You don’t need special equipment – just a level, well-drained space outdoors for a compost pile, which shouldn’t be larger than 3 feet by 3 feet. It could take a year or two, but eventually you will get rich, dark humus that will keep your plants healthy.

Many homeowners invest in a compost bin to save space, hasten decomposition, and keep the yard looking neat. These are available in home and garden centers and on the internet.

The most important thing is to keep the compost aerated. Be sure to mix it up whenever you add new materials. That will add oxygen, which will speed up the process. You will also want to keep the compost pile fairly balanced with materials. Too many leaves, for example, will cause the material to break down too slowly.

When your humus is ready, your soil will love it. You will, too, when you notice a reduction in your water bill. Compost improves the soil’s ability to hold water. And with regular use of compost, you’ll greatly reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, which is not only good for your wallet but will reduce contamination to streams, lakes and other waterbodies.

For more information, go to www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/composting/basic.htm

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