Saturday, May 07, 2005


I had a great idea recently, to start a composting program like our recycling programs. Only to find that San Francisco already does this. Of course.

One drawback about living in a condo is the lack of land. I figured if I really wanted to, I could still experiment with composting on one of the decks. Then I found this nifty gadget for composting indoors. At $300 for a fancy garbage can, it's a bit expensive. But if I had to choose between buying a Palm Pilot for $300 and buying a composter, I'd probably go for the composter. It might be worth $300 just for the experiment. But it will probably go down in price someday.


An interview with Russ Cohn, President of NatureMill

Composting would reduce the need for landfill. However, it actually releases carbon dioxide (and water), which is supposedly bad because of global warming. Cost benefit analysis, anyone?

Solution: Plant some trees and plants in the compost produced. They will suck up the carbon dioxide.

My question is, what happens to compost and dirt? What forms does it cycle to? Is it like entropy, forever increasing? Hm...


Russ said...

It is true that compost produces good old H20 and CO2. So do people. So do cows. So do birds. And about the same amount, pound for pound. But the REALLY bad greenhouse gas is methane (CH4). It is much worse for global warming, and it is produced in very large amounts by landfills. This is because landfills lack osygen and thus undergo "anaerobic" decomposition, as opposed to the "aerobic" decomposition of compost.

So compost prevents a really bad greenhouse, methane, in exchange for a not-so-bad greenhouse gas, CO2. Compost also returns nutrients to the soil and the food chain, reducing our use or chemical fertilizers. So you decide which is better....

annj said...

Don't worry - composting does not release "extra" CO2 to the environment. Every carbon atom in a plant came from a molecule of CO2 that the plant absorbed while growing. So, over the course of a year (for an annual plant), there is no net increase of CO2 in the environment due to growing and composting that plant.