Monkey Forest Tale: What can you do to help improve the environment? Things anyone can do everywhere – Part 2: Compost

SM Junio 2011 019

Following the topic of my last post of what else can you do to help the planet apart from donating to organizations working to solve the Amazon burning, I’m going to talk about two simple things you can do at your home. These things can seem small but if a lot of people are doing it around the world, that really sums up for the better. As Jane Goodall, one of my role models said: “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

No matter if you cook every day or just a few times, every time you cook you are generating garbage, by disposing of vegetables skins and residuals. If you cook every day this can make a big part of your waste and you really don’t know where it goes. But there is another way to use that waste to help the planet… making compost

Compost is the use of vegetable residues from cooking to produce soil. This is a process that most people think it requires big amounts of land/ space, however, it can be done in a small space such as a small plant pot, depending on the amount of cooking you do. I will explain the process in more detail and how you can do it even if you live in a small apartment without a balcony.

I will show you how I do it and give you the steps necessary for doing it in a small space below.

  1. Found a big enough plant pot, can be of plastic or ceramic, I have used both and both works very well.

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2. Get some black soil, same as the one you use for your plants

3. Collect all the vegetable skins and vegetable residues you dispose at your kitchen. You can include eggshells but not chicken bones, chicken skin, pieces of meat or any cooked meal.

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4. Put a 2 cm layer of black soil in the pot you are using to make your compost. This will help to reduce the liquid product of the decomposition of all the vegetable waste

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5. Add the vegetable waste cut in small pieces, the smaller the pieces the faster the decomposition

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6. Add another layer of black soil (around 1 cm) to cover all the vegetable waste you are trying to compost. This will help to reduce odors and flies around your pot

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7. Locate your compost pot near to an open window, in a balcony or your backyard. The place needs to be vented.

8. Repeat the process every time you have vegetable waste.

9. From time to time, put some water to keep good humidity in the soil, this will help the microbial fauna. They are the ones that make the decomposition.

The process to have new soil will last around 1 – 2 months depending on the amount of vegetable waste you produce. This soil can be used on the plants you have at your home.

One of the reasons why large forests like the Amazon or the gallery forest in my study area persist in very poor soils is because of the compost and nutrient recycling occurring during the decomposition process. Most people when seeing a big forest, think the soil under that forest is very rich and good for agriculture, however, that is not always true. In the Amazon as well as in the gallery forest of the Orinoquia, fertile soils remain near to watercourses and rivers. The rest of the areas only have a thin layer of black soil from which plants can get their nutrients. Those nutrients came from the decomposition of fruits, flowers and leaves fallen on the ground where microorganisms and fungi break the components and make them available for plants. So when you make compost at your home you are replicating that process on a small scale.

Although having houseplants at your home not necessarily will increase the amount of oxygen in your home. One plant cannot produce enough oxygen to overweight the amount of carbon dioxide that humans produce, their presence can give you wellbeing just by being there. It is true that all plants produce oxygen as part of their photosynthesis process and consume carbon dioxide in the same process. But they also produce carbon dioxide when they breathe. So, the balance of the amount of oxygen houseplant produce is not enough, but its presence can give you happiness.

I hope this post and the last post had taught you something new and motivate you to do some small changes and activities that can improve your wellbeing as well as the planet even if you are living in a city.

© Copyright Disclaimer. All pictures used on this web page are protected with copyrights to Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón. If you want to use any of these pictures, please leave a message on the website. Thank you.

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