Benefits of Composting

Apart from gaining access to land, poor soil quality is one of the greatest limiting factors to food production in the city.  Urban soils are typically non-existent (i.e. paved over), severely degraded (nutrient poor, thin, compressed) or contaminated.  The remedy for any of these soil maladies is to apply finished compost.  Compost can create soil where it is non-existent, improve and revitalized degraded and dead soils, and can facilitate the degradation or reduce the biological availability of toxins in contaminated soil.  In this regard, the solution to restoring the health of urban soils exists within cities themselves in the form of food wastes and carbon residues.  A paradoxical perk, to be sure, the surplus of food waste only exists a by-product of a wastefully extravagant economy, however one that is essential to utilize.  By converting food wastes into soils and in turn growing nutrient dense foods within city limits, it becomes possible to address systemic issues related to food access and justice.  While it is by no means a total fix in and of itself, it can be a key component in multiplicity of interventions.

In addition to the stated reasons above pertaining to soil health, additional reasons as to why composting represents an appropriate urban ecosystem justice strategy include:

  1. Organic wastes, particularly food residues, are abundant and easily accessible to virtually all residents in a city.
  2. The technology to convert food wastes into soil is simple, requiring little training, technical expertise, or access to sophisticated equipment.  Furthermore, composting is already familiar to citizens from an agricultural background.
  3. The potential exists for food scrap collection and compost making to provide employment for urban residents.
  4. Reducing organic wastes entering the landfill will result in a reduction of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) emissions.
  5. Proactive and reciprocal
  6. Multi-species assemblage – human/non-human partnership and mutualisitc symbiosis
  7. Mending ecological/metabolic rift – completing the cycle