Orlando residents can reduce, reuse waste with free composters

Composting turns food scraps, yard waste into soil

(Photo by Emmet from Pexels)

ORLANDO, Fla.Being eco-friendly is easy in The City Beautiful. The city of Orlando is helping residents save the environment while also saving some money by adopting a free and easy practice -- composting.

Orlando residents have access to free home composters and workshops through Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Green Works initiative. Green Works Orlando was launched in 2007 by Dyer in an effort to make Orlando a leader in environmental-friendly innovation and sustainability.

What is composting?

Composting is the process of turning food scraps and yard waste into soil through natural decomposition. It serves as an alternative to disposing waste in the garbage where it will end up in a landfill.

Municipal solid waste landfills are a source for greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to the greenhouse effect, or the warming of Earth’s atmosphere.

Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion metric tons — gets lost or wasted, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

What are the benefits?

Compost is a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers. These chemical fertilizers contain a limited number of nutrients and produce harmful runoff into bodies of water like rivers, lakes and streams. Compost, however, is nutrient-rich and returns organic waste back to the soil to benefit agriculture.

As an added bonus, composting isn’t only good for the environment, it’s also good for your pocketbook. By turning your food scraps and yard waste into compost, you can save money on buying chemical fertilizers. Compost provides soil with microorganisms chemical fertilizers cannot while improving plant growth, so you’ll probably find yourself watering your garden less, too.

Orlando residents can request a free composter here.

How do you get started?

Once you’ve received your composter, you can get started immediately. The first step is to place the composter on exposed soil in a spot that is dry, shady or moderately sunny. Make sure it is also near a source of clean water.

Composter-friendly scraps and waste can be divided into two categories -- greens and browns. Greens include materials like fruits, vegetables, grass clippings and coffee grounds. Browns include breads, grains, nuts, hair, dryer and vacuum lint, and more. Avoid adding meat, bones, fats, oils, dairy and grease to the compost.

Add two parts browns and one part greens in layers to your composter, alternating between dry and moist materials. Also add some twigs, leaves, shredded paper and grass, making sure all food scraps are covered.

Lastly, add water and cover the composter. Compost is ready to be harvested after about four to six months. It will give off an earthy aroma and feel crumbly and moist once it is ready to be added to your garden soil.

For more information and videos on how to compost click here.