Composting, the Key to a Sustainable Future in South Florida

Composting not only reduces waste and greenhouse gas emissions but also improves soil health and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

By Carlos Roa

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, composting is “a controlled, aerobic (oxygen-required) process that converts organic materials into a nutrient-rich, biologically-stable soil amendment or mulch through natural decomposition. The end product is compost.

The same source adds how microorganisms feed on the materials added to the compost pile during the composting process. They use carbon and nitrogen to grow and reproduce, water to digest materials, and oxygen to breathe.

Compost for Life, an organization created in 2020, aims to promote and facilitate composting in the Miami area, from Homestead to Broward. Since October of that year, they have prevented more than 3 million pounds of organic waste from ending up in landfills.

In a conversation with its founder, Francisco Torres, we learned about their contributions to sustainable living in South Florida.

“We started by collecting food waste from four families and one restaurant, gathering 110 pounds in the first week. Today, we collect over 35,000 pounds weekly from more than 400 families and 43 businesses,” he recounts.

Torres adds, “Our mission is to reduce the amount of organic waste ending up in landfills, where it generates methane gas, one of the most harmful gases for the environment. We promote composting as a natural and effective solution for recycling and taking care of our land.”

– How has the community reception been, and what challenges have you faced?

– It has been very positive. We focus a lot on creating awareness and education. We participate in workshops, presentations, and events to educate the community about the importance of composting.

For Compost for Life, one of the biggest challenges is changing people’s habits. “Making them understand organic waste is not garbage but valuable resources to nourish the land. By offering a service that collects this waste, we eliminate excuses of lack of time or space, making participation easier,” Francisco notes.

– Can you give us an idea of the environmental impact of composting compared to landfills?

– In Miami-Dade County, 30% of the waste we generate is compostable. Currently, the county sends one million tons of waste to the landfill annually. We have rescued three million pounds of waste since we started, which is a small step but significant. Composting not only reduces waste in landfills but also stores carbon molecules in the soil, helps prevent flooding, and avoids the use of chemical fertilizers, protecting our local ecosystems.

Francisco continues to explain how composting also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improves soil health, making plants more resistant to diseases.

“This reduces the need for chemical interventions in agriculture, creating a more sustainable and healthy cycle. Additionally, families participating in our program receive compost for their gardens every six months, which closes the loop and tangibly shows them the positive impact of their actions.”

– What plans do you have for the future of Compost for Life?

– We want to expand our reach and continue educating more people about the importance of composting. We are developing ambassador programs in the community to facilitate participation and create more collection points. We also seek to collaborate with more institutions and businesses to increase composting in the city. We believe that every small change counts, and we are committed to continuing to grow this composting community.

Composting, a straightforward yet impactful process, benefits the environment and communities. The invitation extends to educate oneself, engage, and transition toward more sustainable practices.

 

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