Composting is Nature's Way of Recycling

JAMESTOWN, NEW YORK (May 16, 2023) -- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s Master Gardeners are celebrating — “National Learn About Composting Day”, on May 29th!

Recycling plastics is almost automatic for people (hopefully!), but what about the recycling of organic materials? There are SO many good reasons to compost! By making compost, you can save money by making rich, organic soil fertilizer, reduce erosion, conserve, and replenish groundwater, plus much more! Organic material otherwise sent to a landfill creates methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to the negative impacts of our environment.

Master Gardener, Steve Rees shares in his recent article; “The Joy of Composting” “…Returning organic matter to the soil is increasingly important as the earth’s population grows and generates more and more wastes of all types, much of which can be reused to the benefit of all species. For one example, the need for landfill space to accommodate waste stream materials could be reduced by as much as one-third if organic matter is diverted and recycled (composted)…”

It is important to determine the right type of bin or compost system for your household. Steve goes on to explain that [the] “…scale of the composting method chosen by an individual will be first tied to their property size and location. City dwellers or those in suburban or rural areas will select a method best suited to their locale…”

Vermicomposting is another method for composting, using red wiggler worms (E. foetida) to decompose plant waste into castings.

The ingredients for compost are simple and FREE! There must be a proper balance, of 2-3 part “Browns” and 1 part “Green” materials.

  • Carbon-rich materials (“browns”) Can include dry leaves, cardboard, and twigs. The carbon-rich materials provide food for the microorganisms to consume and digest.
  • Nitrogen-rich materials (“greens”) Can include grass clippings and food scraps. The nitrogen-rich materials heat up the pile to create ideal conditions for the material to breakdown.
  • Water (moisture).
  • Air (oxygen).
  • Steve Rees continues “…The decomposition process relies on the microbiological activity of numerous organisms. Imagine a complex food web or pyramid consisting of organic matter such as leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen waste…”

    To learn more about composting on a small scale please visit

    The Master Gardener Program is one of many programs offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County (CCE-Chautauqua). CCE-Chautauqua is a subordinate governmental agency with an educational mission that operates under a form of organization and administration approved by Cornell University as agent for the State of New York. It is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The association is part of the national cooperative extension system, an educational partnership between County, State, and Federal governments. As New York’s land grant university Cornell administers the system in this state. Each Cornell Cooperative Extension association is an independent employer that is governed by an elected Board of Directors with general oversight from Cornell. All associations work to meet the needs of the counties in which they are located as well as state and national goals. For more information, call 716-664-9502 or visit our website at Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.


    Shannon Rinow
    Master Gardener Coordinator
    716-664-9502 ext 224

    Last updated May 16, 2023