Category Archives: Compost Round Up

Compost Round Up: Touchdown for Composting!

With football season about to kick off, this one is dedicated to all the sports fans!

Fairly recently, sports teams, stadiums and arenas have begun composting, negating the hefty cost of hauling fees of waste to landfills. Check out this NY Times article to learn about how composting at sports venues is being implemented, challenges, benefits and it’s future.

It also turns out that our beloved composting partner Rocky Hill Farm has worked with Fenway Park in their “Greening” of the facility.

Of course, sports teams often ask taxpayers to finance stadiums. The conversation surrounding a community’s obligation to its sports teams in the form of financial support for infrastructure takes on a new dynamic when those teams and leagues start making a commitment to composting, and sustainability more generally, and the community as a whole. Indeed, as the trend toward community partnerships continues in sports, it supports a minor “yay” in support for some city funds going toward making a stadium. Boston, however, is the only town in the Union where all of the major league sports teams receive no financial support from the public. Maybe it’s why we keep having to win!

Compost Round Up: “Manure happens”

Although different than what we do, another common composting source is that of composting animal manure. What’s composting manure all about?

Here are 10 facts about composting manure:

1. Manure from animals such as horses, goats, chickens and cows can be composted.

2. Manure should not be viewed as waste, rather an alternative to fertilizers and thus an economic resource.

3. Few weed seeds remain viable in properly composted manure, which can reduce the amount of herbicide or tillage needed for weed control.

4. Composting reduces the volume and density of manure 50-65 percent.

5. Manure compost can supply slow-release micro-nutrients for crop production, improve soil structure and promote growth of earthworms.

6. Pile temperatures should exceed 131 degrees F for 15 days and be turned a minimum of 5 times to kill pathogens. Carbon/nitrogen ratios should be about 30/1, moisture content at 50% and oxygen needs to be incorporated through routine turning.

7. The site of the pile needs to be in an area not prone to groundwater contamination through leaching or where leachate can run off into surface water.

8. After heating cycles have subsided, manure compost should cure properly. Applying immature compost can cause insect swarms, nitrogen immobilization, malodors or phytotoxicity (plant injury).

9. Understanding how to manage manure is vital! Applying too little can result in low yields and nutrient deficiency. Applying too much could mean a phosphorous runoff, nitrate leaching, and excessive vegetative growth.

10. Play it safe and get your compost tested for nutrient levels!

In conclusion, composting food scraps and animal manure are similar in their ability to reuse waste, create healthy outcomes for crop production, and save money. Composting manure, however, needs to monitored in order to prevent water contamination, exposure to pathogens and pollution. Both methods have their pro’s and con’s and it’s important to explore the best fit for you! Learn more below:

Compost Round Up: “Know your compost friends”

As we’re all aware, compost week-or weeks, shall we say, has been a main focus of BSC lately. If you spent any time shoveling, sifting, or packing, you may have noticed a number of compost critters, or “friends”, living amongst the piles.

Alas, we’re referring to millipedes, roly polies, collembolas, snails, bacteria, worms and more! Verily, they make compost what it is, but, how well do we know our friends? What do they like to eat? What characteristics make them unique? What do they look like? How do they interact with each other?

See the attached ‘Compost Critter Information Sheet’ to get acquainted. Whether you’re composting at home or in a classroom, this is a resource for identifying different creatures and their individual benefits for your compost pile!

Compost Critters Information Sheet

Compost Round Up: “Bokashi Composting”

For this week, we’d like to report on a topic that our operations manager Faith recently brought to our attention, Bokashi Composting. It’s quite a bit different than the ‘backyard’ composting we’re used to, but still a method commonly put into practice.

For starters, meat and diary can be composted. Food scraps are fermented, thus the organic matter should have as little oxygen as possible. We’re used to turning piles, making sure they are aerated to facilitate decomposition. In Bokashi, a bran containing microbes is spread on top of scraps, rather than allowing nature to do it’s job.

Have any of you tried this before or know someone who has?

Read here to learn more about the history and use of Bokashi.

Compost Round Up: “It’s Getting Hot in Here”

Did you know the heat from inside a compost pile can heat your water? There’s a relatively new system introduced by innovator Jean Pain called Compost Power. This involves setting up a compost pile with hundreds of feet of tubing running through it. This tubing allows you to run your water through the pile of compost, thus harnessing compost to heat your house water.

In addition to water, systems are being developed to even heat greenhouses, farms and buildings solely from compost. In the words of Joey Lawrence, “Whoa!”

Compost heat recovery, check it out:

Compost Round Up: “Use a Mug to Chug”

So what’s the deal with composting those plastic-lined paper cups?

This question was proposed recently at a staff meeting, and certainly, as an army of composting nuts, was worth investigating. As with most things, there are differences in opinions, but here’s the jist:

1. Plastic-lined paper products aren’t compostable, since the plastic simply breaks down into nearly invisible tiny pieces or “microplastics.” These microplastics contaminate the soil, are ingested by insects and worms, and run off into rivers and oceans, damaging marine ecosystems: http://www.ecocycle.org/specialreports/microplasticsincompost.

2. Plastic-lined products need to go to appropriate composting facilities and are usually not suitable for backyard composting since the pile doesn’t reach a hot enough temperature. If you do try, however, and it works, you may end up with a plastic skeleton which can be removed from the pile.

3. Some cities, like San Francisco, accept plastic-lined products for resident convenience and claim they are able to separate the plastic and divert the cardboard from landfills.

4. Composting facilities use a variety of processing methods so some collect these products and other don’t. Best to encourage people to contact their local facilities to see what they do/don’t accept.

5. The recycling stream is contaminated with “compostable” cups and they’re screened out or off to the landfill they go, causing methane emissions like everything else.

6. The quickest and easiest solution to this issue is to bring your travel mug with you everywhere!

This article, “Is Your Cup Compostable -or Biodegradable and Why It Matters?

We also came across this blog, “Tyler Talks Trash” and Tyler seems to have done some research on which cups actually are compostable and has listed some products.

Finally, a little video – 4 Tips to Buying Truly Green Biodegradable Cups

Compost Round Up: “Bioplastics in our Biosphere”

For those of us emptying buckets, picking up bags from commercial accounts, checking inside buckets, ‘compostable’ cutlery or ‘bioplastics’ is a familiar sight. What are bioplastics exactly? How are they manufactured and are they really compostable? Is it clever marketing or an effective strategy for greener production and dining?

Bioplastics, simply stated, are plastics derived from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn or pea starch and microbiota. They come in forms like packaging, pots, bowls, cutlery, bags, and even in mobile phone casings, plastic piping and carpet fibers. The term ‘bioplastic” means plastic that has been created from a biological source. This can be misleading as folks can assume that “bioplastic” equals “biodegradable,” which in many cases is incorrect.

In comparison with the production of common plastic, bioplastic requires less fossil fuels and creates less greenhouse gas. Petroleum is used in the production of both, however, its possible to create bioplastic with renewable energy and zero petroleum. Consequently, there is concern that if the demand for bioplastic spikes to a global level, this will lead to increased deforestation and soil eroison.

And so you see, there is much debate regarding bioplastics especially since there are different types (starch-based, cellulose-based, polylactic acid, poly-3-hydroxybutyrate, polyamide 11, etc) each with it’s own environmental pro’s and con’s.

This is a very basic illustration mapping the cycle of bioplastics:

bioplastics

In terms of the breakdown of bioplastics, which is where Bootstrap comes in, see this article for details: http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/12/breaking-bioplastics. “Not all bio-based plastics will biodegrade and not all biodegradable plastics will compost,” the author states.

It seems we have a way to go until the production and breakdown of bioplastics is perfected. In the meantime, we can be active, educated consumers, ensuring our dishware goes to the correct stream for the correct processing. Fortunately, Bootstrap sorts and removes any non-compostable bioplastics from our stream. Those which are compostable are sent to our friends at partners at composting facilities. Booya!

Compost Round Up: “Composting Ourselves”

Well this puts a new twist on composting. Katrina Spade, former UMass Architecture student and now Seattle resident has a developed a project for those of us wanting an alternative burial. Yes, composting our bodies once we’ve passed on.

She calls it the Urban Death Project. The vision is a four-story building with a series of ramps, which the family and loved ones of a deceased person would walk through as a part of the ceremonial process. The body would be cleaned and wrapped and placed into the “core”, the compost pile of bodies mixed with woodchips and sawdust.

What could be the benefits of composting ourselves? Spade says it will it won’t take up arable land since cemeteries and individual plots consume space. Materials like steel, copper, and concrete for vaults and coffins will not damage land; trees can be preserved instead of cut down for coffins. Toxic chemicals for embalming won’t need to be used. High volumes of natural gas used to burn a body for cremation are also offset. Our bodies, nonetheless, are full of rich building blocks for soil, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus.

Compost Round Up: “Stick This in Your Tailpipe”

Today we thought we would take a moment and highlight our star food scrap, the banana peel. From our experience, at least half the buckets we collect have these suckers in ’em at any given time. Why, oh why, you may ponder, is this important?

Banana Peel
Did you know that 25% of peels are thrown into landfills, resulting in the emission of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas? Americans eat 304 bananas every second – 12% of a banana’s weight is it’s peel, meaning over 780 million pounds of peels per year are on their way to the landfill to release over 740 million pounds of harmful GHGs.

Fortunately our savvy Bootstrap compost warriors are making a big dent right here in Boston. But how many of us know what else we can do with our peels, in addition to composting? Check out this awesome info-graphic, created by Sustainable America, to find out the many uses of a banana peel.

And watch this 3 minute video to learn how to make banana peel fertilizer!

Compost Round Up: “My Cup of Tea”

For this week’s edition of Compost Round Up, we thought we’d delve into the wonders of Compost Tea. It came up briefly at a recent Bootstrap team meeting and we thought it was worth expanding on. And given that Compost Week! just ended, here’s a way to stretch your supply of black gold. Without further ado, let’s learn the basic ins-and-outs:

What is compost tea?
It is the liquid extract of compost that contains plant growth compounds and beneficial microorganisms. It is NOT leachate, the dark-colored solution that leaks out of the compost pile, or the juice found in worm bins.

Why compost tea?
The healthy bacteria and fungus in compost tea protects plants from diseases. It can add key plant nutrients and microbes to soil without adding bulk (good for rooftop, balcony or container gardening). Compost tea is a way to maximize your compost resources to perform a more widespread application.

How do I make it?
Here is video making compost tea with equipment (pump, hose, etc):

Don’t have equipment? Not to worry, here’s a method for you:

How is it applied?
Compost tea can be applied once a week to the leaves or root zones of plants with a pump sprayer or watering can, ideally within two hours of the brewing process.