Monday, March 23, 2009

Get Started Composting At Home In Time For Earth Day

(StatePoint) With Earth Day on the horizon, it's the perfect time to get the whole family involved in doing something at home for the good of the environment.

Composting is a great project to get you started going green: It's easy for the entire family, costs nothing, is simple to keep doing and can save you money on fertilizer.

A natural form of recycling, composting turns your organic garbage -- such as food waste, paper, disposable tableware, grass clippings, and much more -- into one of nature's best mulches for your garden or yard. By setting up a compost pile or bin, your family can take positive steps in reducing its carbon footprint while saving money on commercial fertilizers.

"The average American produces four pounds of landfill waste daily. That's more than 50 tons over a lifetime. About half of this waste is compostable, which means we have fantastic opportunities to put our garbage to use to help save the planet," says Julie Stoetzer, brand manager and environmental expert for Chinet disposable tableware.

And with gardening the number one pastime in America, all that waste can be added to yards to improve soil fertility and root development in plants and grass.

Here are simple steps from Stoetzer and the experts at Huhtamaki, the makers of Chinet, to get underway composting:

* Select a convenient spot. It should be semi-shaded and well drained. Don't put your compost pile under acid producing trees like pines. If you do not have space for an outdoor pile, use a bin indoors which can be purchased or made at home.

* Combine organic wastes such as yard trimmings, food wastes and biodegradable paper plates into a pile. Add bulking agents such as wood chips to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials, allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process.

* When choosing disposable tableware such as plates, bowls and platters, select those made of 100 percent pre-consumer recycled content, such as Chinet Casuals and Chinet Classic White lines that also are biodegradable in home composting.

* A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and won't smell badly.

* Typical compost will turn into rich soil in two to five weeks. Use compost in home gardening or donate it to city or public benefit projects.

* Examples of what can be composted: Cardboard rolls, clean paper, biodegradable disposable tableware, fruits and vegetables, yard trimmings, coffee grounds and filters, dryer and vacuum cleaner lint, eggshells, fireplace ashes, hair and fur and tea bags.

Items that should NOT be composted:

* Coal or charcoal ash which may contain substances harmful to plants.

* Dairy products such as butter, egg yolks and milk, which can create odor problems and attract pests.

* Meat or fish bones and scraps may contain parasites, bacteria and germs. Fats, grease, lard and oils which can create odor problems.

* Diseased or insect-ridden plants that can contaminate other vegetation. Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides may kill beneficial composting organisms.

"Composting is a simple solution to reduce the waste your family puts into a landfill. We kept this in mind when developing premium disposable Chinet tableware, using recycled materials that otherwise would have gone into a landfill, to produce new biodegradable plates and bowls," stresses Stoetzer.

For more tips on composting and other environmental activities, visit www.mychinet.com and click on "Environment."

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