“Compost makes houseplants very happy.”
Shalom Harlow, Model
Advantages & Disadvantages of Composting
Composting is the process of decomposing organic materials.
The end product (so-called compost) can then be used as soil conditioner or for several other purposes.
Composting can be regarded to be quite eco-friendly since through composting, large amounts of materials that would otherwise be treated as trash can be reused instead.
Although composting has many important advantages, it also implies some problems.
In this article, the pros and cons of composting are examined.
Advantages of Composting
- Improvements in soil quality
- Enhances the structure of the soil
- Rather cheap soil conditioner
- Fully organic fertilizer
- Higher yields
- Less waste
- Fewer garbage pickups necessary
- Easy to produce compost
- Education for your kids
- Good feeling to act in an eco-friendly manner
Improvements in soil quality
One advantage of composting is that compost can significantly improve the soil quality.
When it is mixed with other soil components, compost can enhance the nutrient mix, which will likely translate into a better growth pattern of plants.
Thus, especially if you have a garden, composting may be a great way to improve the conditions for your plants and to get rid of your organic waste at the same time.
Enhances the structure of the soil
Compost will not only improve the nutrient mix in the soil, it will also enhance the soil structure.
Through the use of compost, the soil mix will be better able to retain water, which is especially important in hot summers since plants will be able to survive without irrigation much longer compared to soil that is not mixed with compost.
Rather cheap soil conditioner
Compost can also be a quite cheap soil conditioner.
In fact, if you engage in composting yourself and you only use your organic food waste for it, the costs of composting will be almost zero.
The only costs that will be related to composting are the initial costs for purchasing a compost bin.
Apart from that, composting is quite cheap and in the long run, you can save plenty of money since there will also be no need to use conventional chemical fertilizer from the store anymore.
Fully organic fertilizer
Another upside of compost is that it is an entirely organic fertilizer.
Since only organic food waste and other organic materials can be composted, also the end product will be organic.
Compared to conventional chemical fertilizers, organic ones don’t lead to soil and groundwater pollution.
Moreover, conventional fertilizers are also produced with the help of fossil fuels, which implies the emission of greenhouse gases and enhances global warming.
By refraining from conventional chemical fertilizers and using compost instead, all those environmental problems could be mitigated to a certain extent.
The use of compost in gardening can also lead to significantly higher crop yields.
Since compost can be regarded as a kind of fertilizer, it can improve the growth behavior of plants and may also maximize crop yields.
Depending on the initial materials that had been used for producing the compost, it can vastly increase the overall crop yields compared to plants that are grown on soil that has not been treated with compost.
Most of our consumer waste either end up in landfills where it can lead to soil pollution or it is burned, which leads to the emission of greenhouse gases and global warming.
By composting your organic food waste, you can reduce your overall waste production and can reuse part of your waste for gardening purposes instead.
By doing so, you can vastly improve your ecological footprint since you can save plenty of waste in the long run.
Fewer garbage pickups necessary
Since through composting, you will reuse part of your food waste, the overall amount of waste that you will produce could be lowered.
In turn, there will also be less need for garbage pickups, which will result in lower costs for you.
Easy to produce compost
Producing compost from organic materials is fairly simple.
You will not need any special physical or mental abilities to produce compost.
Even if you had any problems, you could easily find plenty of forums or videos where you can look up some composting tips.
Therefore, almost everyone could consider engaging in composting and make his or her positive contribution for our environment.
Since the amount of household waste can be reduced and there is also less need for the use of chemical fertilizers, composting can be regarded to be quite eco-friendly and could improve the ecological footprint of millions of people on our planet.
Thus, especially if you plan to go greener in the future, composting may be a great way to start.
Education for your kids
Engaging in composting may not only improve your own ecological footprint, it may also be a great tool to educate your children about our environmental problems and also how every one of us can make a contribution to go greener.
By showing your kids how our organic household waste can be reused, they might develop a better connection to nature and will also be more likely to adapt those eco-friendly characteristics into adulthood.
Good feeling to act in an eco-friendly manner
We all become more aware of the importance of saving our environment.
We know that if we continue as we did in the past, chances are that millions or even billions of people might suffer from starvation, natural disasters and other adverse events in the future.
Thus, it is crucial that every one of us takes action to improve their ecological footprint in order to mitigate our environmental problems and to ensure a livable future for the next generations.
By engaging in composting and other eco-friendly activities, chances are that you also feel much better since you know you made your contribution in order to achieve this big goal.
Disadvantages of Composting
- Requires initial investment
- Efficiency depends on your amount of organic waste
- Unpleasant smell
- Neighbors may complain
- May attract rats, snakes and bugs
- Rather unpleasant physical appearance
- Involves plenty of work
- Needs some monitoring
- Quality of compost depends on the ingredients
- Composting takes time
- Additional fertilizer may be necessary
- Spread of diseases
- Composting needs some space
- Not suitable for all kinds of organic waste
- Fire hazard
Requires initial investment
Although composting has many advantages, it also implies some downsides.
One disadvantage of composting is that it requires a certain kind of investment at the beginning.
For instance, you might need a composting bin or other equipment to get started.
However, this kind of equipment will not be that expensive and it will amortize pretty soon if you compare it to the savings for fertilizer and soil you will be able to achieve due to the use of compost in your garden.
Efficiency depends on your amount of organic waste
Composting may also be only efficient if your household produces a certain amount of organic waste.
For instance, if you only produce low levels of organic food waste, the effort that is associated with the production of compost will often not be worth the rewards.
Thus, composting may be more suitable for big families rather than for single households.
Composting also often implies the production of unpleasant smell.
Depending on the sort of organic food waste, plenty of smell can be produced in the composting process, which may decrease your overall quality of life at home.
Thus, make sure not to use certain kinds of foods for composting which are known to emit large amounts of unpleasant gases.
Instead, focus on plant waste which will be rather harmless in terms of smell production.
Neighbors may complain
Due to the smell associated with composting, you might also get problems with your neighbors since they might complain about this unpleasant smell.
This is especially true if you live in an apartment rather than in a house since your neighbor’s balcony will be quite close to yours and the smell will often be carried over to your neighbor if the wind turns in his direction.
Thus, composting might also not be suitable if you live in apartment complexes since your neighbors may complain and you might be forced to stop your composting activities due to those complaints.
May attract rats, snakes and bugs
Another problem of composting is that it may also attract many sorts of animals that might be harmful to human health.
While compost often attracts bugs that are rather harmless, it could also attract rats or even snakes.
Thus, you might have to be quite careful when setting up your compost bin in order to avoid those animal infiltrations.
After all, you do not want to get bitten by a venomous snake, do you?
Rather unpleasant physical appearance
The compost itself is often not a pretty picture at all.
If there are large amounts of compost around your garden, chances are that the overall visual appearance of your home might suffer.
Thus, it is crucial that you determine one single spot for your composting activities in order to preserve a nice visual appearance of the rest of your garden while profiting from the benefits of composting at the same time.
Involves plenty of work
Composting is a process that also requires significant amounts of work.
For instance, you will have to move the compost around at least a few times a weak in order to ensure proper air circulation.
Depending on the amount of compost, this can add up to plenty of physical work over time.
However, the good news is that you might be able to stop going to the gym if you engage in composting on a regular basis.
Needs some monitoring
Composting also needs some monitoring in order to get the best results.
You should make sure that your compost has the optimal temperature and is also set up at an optimal location where it gets the right amount of sunlight in order to optimize the composting process.
Thus, especially at the beginning of your composting career, you might have to monitor and adjust the composting process in order to optimize them in the long run.
Quality of compost depends on the ingredients
The quality of the compost also significantly depends on the quality of the organic waste products you use for it.
For instance, some food waste may contain much more and also higher-quality ingredients than others.
Thus, depending on which kind of organic waste had been used for compost production, the quality of compost can greatly vary over time.
You may have to figure out what kind of food waste to use in order to optimize your compost.
There are plenty of videos and articles out there that cover this topic.
Composting takes time
Another downside of composting is that it might take a long period of time until the food waste is decomposed into useful compost.
For instance, depending on the kind of input materials, the composting process can take from one month to one year until the organic matter has been fully decomposed and is ready to be used as fertilizer or soil conditioner.
Additional fertilizer may be necessary
Since the quality of the compost heavily depends on the organic waste input, there may also be the need for the use of additional fertilizer in order to optimize yields.
This may lower the positive environmental impact of composting to a certain extent since the use of conventional chemical fertilizer is usually quite bad for our planet.
Thus, in order to produce high-quality compost, make sure to use the right organic waste inputs in order to be able to refrain from the use of additional chemical fertilizer in your garden.
Spread of diseases
Since your organic waste is decomposed with the help of bacteria in the composting process, those kinds of bacteria may also lead to a spread of diseases if the composting bin is not set up properly.
Moreover, since compost can attract rats, these rats may also carry diseases that may be carried over to you if you get to close to them.
Thus, make sure that your composting process is set up properly in order to avoid the spread of diseases.
Composting needs some space
Composting may also not be suitable for everyone due to space constraints.
For instance, a compost bin needs some space and especially if you live in a small apartment and even do not have a balcony, composting will likely not be suitable for you.
For composting purposes, it is better to live either in a large flat with a balcony or, even better, in a house since you will not bother your neighbors with unpleasant smell.
Not suitable for all kinds of organic waste
Some organic waste products may also not be suitable for composting purposes.
This may be especially true for meat since it may attract plenty of animals and insects which you don’t want to have in your garden.
Thus, composting may only be suitable for a certain fraction of your organic food waste and you should figure out whether composting and the related efforts are worth it for you or not.
Since composting also implies the emission of certain gases, the chance of fires may increase.
Even though this has not been examined in a scientifically reliable manner yet, some people claim that having a compost bin in your garden can increase the chances for fires.
Thus, this might be another reason not to engage in composting.
Top 10 Composting Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Composting Pros||Composting Cons|
|Soil quality improvements||Initial investment necessary|
|Cheap fertilizer||May attract rats or snakes|
|Eco-friendly||Spread of diseases|
|Reduction in waste production||Increased risk for fires|
|Educational purposes||Needs monitoring|
|Easy to produce||Physical work required|
|Fewer garbage pickups necessary||Composting needs space|
|Fully organic fertilizer||Odor nuisance|
|Soil structure improvements||Varying quality of the compost|
|Higher yields||Unpleasant physical appearance|
Composting can be a great way to get rid of your organic food waste and to turn it into a soil conditioner, which may be useful to improve the growth behavior and the yields of your plants.
However, there are also many problems related to composting.
In the end, you should evaluate all the pros and cons by yourself in order to make a profound decision about whether composting might be suitable for you or not.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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