4 Surprising Benefits of Composting You Never Expected

At the beginning of the year, I outlined a few goals on which I wanted to focus - Goals like becoming more mindful, hiking more, and decreasing food waste. You know, very glamorous #lifegoals.

As it turns out, one of these goals has been way easier to accomplish than the others. A few months ago, I signed up with Compost Now, a local organization that supports and manages food scrap and composting efforts. For a relatively small fee, they provide a lined bin that you fill with food waste, cardboard and paper scraps, used coffee grounds, and more. They pick up the bin once a week to take to their composting facility and provide you with a new bin to start all over. It is super easy and takes nearly all of the effort of actually composting off your hands.

Even better? You get access to the soil produced throughout the process to really come full circle. You also get to track your progress, how much waste you have diverted away from landfills, and how much of an impact this amount has on the environment and food production – all through your online account. These are stats I am here for!

My Compost Now stats as of Feb 12, 2020. Get those 20 delicious tomatoes, suckas.

When I originally started this, I knew the overall benefit would be reducing the amount of food waste I produce…which for someone who cooks a lot is easier said than done.

What I did not expect were the little benefits that add up to more than just the waste itself.

1. You become more mindful of the groceries you buy, the food you use, and the recipes you make.

I am a self-professed food hoarder. I like to be prepared with miscellaneous ingredients on hand. I am a sucker for random foods from Trader Joe’s. I am also bad at properly estimating how much food I can and will use as a single woman before those same foods wilt and spoil.

To be honest, it is annoying.

Since beginning composting, I am more aware of what is living in my fridge, freezer, and pantry at any given moment. I keep better track of what foods have been sitting in waiting and which I need to use before they go bad. I try to shop my pantry first before ever stepping foot in a store or market.

The foods that don’t make the cut? Since bin pickup is Wednesday of each week, I go through my fridge Tuesday night to see if there is anything on its last leg that is beyond the point of saving. If it cannot be used, in the bin it goes.

2. You will spend less time in the grocery store.

This coincides with my first point. Because I am more mindful of what is in my kitchen, I know what ingredients I do or do not need for any given recipe. To avoid letting food knowingly go to waste, I am more inclined to make recipes I know have on hand or create new recipes from scratch based on what is around.

The good news is that doing so cuts down on how frequently I go grocery shopping…which, you know, is great for keeping food waste at bay as well as making my bank account the smallest bit happier with me.

3. You will be more apt to choose fresh foods over packaged or processed when you do.

While it is true you are more mindful of the food already in your kitchen, you also become much more aware of what these foods are packaged in.

Cardboard boxes are usually compostable, but packaging like cellophane or plastic is definitely not. Because of this, you may find that you will gravitate towards foods that are packaged in means that are more sustainable.

That is, packaging that can be returned to the soil rather than thrown out in the trash. These types of foods tend to be fresher and healthier, helping you to stray away from a reliance on processed foods.

3. It isn't just food waste that you will be cutting back on. It is all kitchen waste.

I feel like I should have expected this, but it still surprises me. I had not realized before now just how much waste I was producing in general. Within two months, I have gone from taking trash out 3 to 4 times per week to only 1 or 2 times each week. GUYS. LIKE WHAT THE ACTUAL HECK.

I feel I should remind you at this point that I live alone. The amount of trash generated is by ONE PERSON and not a couple or a family of four.

4. Composting becomes a game.

This is easily the oddest bonus of this process and one that I did not foresee. How many of these food scraps can I send to waste? How much can I save for another recipe? What can I pull from this non-compostable item that can go in the bin? How can I feel this bin in one week to make it worth putting it out for pickup on Wednesday?

Guys. These are obviously important questions. This is legit.

The process of composting has become a challenge to see what can and cannot be trashed and how quickly a bin can be filled. I wonder if this is similar for those who are composting the old fashioned ways – you know, with a smelly compost pile in their backyard. It may not be quite as gamified, but I am sure there is still some element of How can I make this more impactful? than if…you know…you just weren’t doing this in the first place.

What do you think about composting, and have you tried it yet? Let me know of other benefits you have discovered through this process!