The benefits of compost | Guest column

  • Wed Oct 30th, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

By Ayla Ridwan and Raylee Miniken

Friday Harbor High School students

San Juan County would greatly benefit from a commercial composter. Commercial composters help to mitigate the effects of waste by eliminating the methane production of compostable items. Composting is the process of decomposing matter. According to O2Compost, a commercial composter manufacturer, it is “the transformation of raw-organic materials into biologically stable, humus-rich substances suitable for growing plants.”

When we send our trash to a landfill, we allow it to sit and produce methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Composting is a process that eliminates the production of methane created by waste. A commercial composter is a facility that provides the ideal heat and PH levels for materials to compost. It maintains these levels and is able to compost materials that can’t decompose unless these ideal conditions are met. A commercial composter in San Juan County would eliminate the methane released by all waste that could otherwise be composted.

In San Juan County we also have to transport a lot of our waste off of the islands to be handled in proper facilities. Much of our waste is sent to the Roosevelt Landfill in Roosevelt, Washington. A commercial composter would help reduce carbon dioxide emissions created when our waste has to be transported off-island. There are many types of commercial composters, the one that would be most beneficial to the island would be an aerated static pile composter. Aerated static pile composters are able to compost items that can not be composted at home. They are able to compost compostable utensils, paper plates and bowls, industrial food waste, pre- and post-consumer food waste, biosolids — sludge from water treatment plants- and much more.

Juniors at Friday Harbor High School take a community projects class with Jenny Wilson. For our community project, we will be performing a waste audit at Friday Harbor High School. We will do this by sorting through the trash and finding how much of it can be composted and how much money could be saved from having a commercial composter. We were able to get funding from the Madrona Institute’s Youth Stewardship Fund for all of the equipment needed for the waste audit. We are working with Friends of the San Juans, specifically Katie Fleming, our mentor for the project.

As an individual, you can help by supporting local efforts to get a commercial composter in San Juan County. You can also start your own composting at home and be conscientious of what you buy and the waste it will produce.