In my blog, I try to highlight a lot of ways to GO GREEN in Amman because the lack of municipal recycling means most everything is ending up in landfills, if not being burnt in a dumpster outside your house.
Before moving to Amman I was living in Spain, where I was separating all of my garbage to then take down to the proper dumpsters. In Amman, after a bit of research, I found that I could bring my paper and plastic recyclables to the BeEnvironmental recycling center at Cozmo 7th circle. However, there was still a large portion of my trash that I wasn’t recycling, the organic waste – food scraps and the such.
I know that composting is something that is supposedly easy to do, but it’s always been a bit over my head, so I thought now is the time to find out how I can turn my organic waste into something useful – nutrient-rich fertilizer – and at the same time, cut down on my methane footprint in this world. Because did you know? If you don’t properly segregate your wet waste and it ends up in a landfill, even if it’s “biodegradable”, organic waste, it still won’t properly break-down, which causes a huge release of methane gas into the atmosphere (this isn’t a good thing).
How to start composting
This presents the question then, “how the hell do I start composting in Jordan?”. Trust me, it’s the same question I’m asking myself as I began to research (Googling “composting in Amman” only returned one helpful result) and write this article.
As I’m a beginner, I figured I can share the steps with you on my journey from “food scraps thrower-outer that hopes they biodegrade naturally with no harm done to the environment” (this is the lie I have to tell myself) to a “composting queen”.
Step 1 – Understand what composting means
I guess the first step is to know exactly what composting is. Put simply it is “a form of waste disposal where organic waste decomposes naturally under oxygen-rich conditions.” Nature composts naturally, just imagine a tree that has fallen in the forest, little by little it will decompose, but for a household to mimic nature, there are a few things you need to do. I’ll outline these below, don’t worry.
Step 2 – Know why composting is important
As explained above, composting is important to make sure that the food we toss doesn’t end up as a methane-spewing demon in a landfill somewhere in Jordan. But if that doesn’t convince you, here are some other arguments on why composting is the way to go:
- Reduces waste in landfills. Did you know that 60% of the waste that ends up in Jordan’s landfills is organic waste that can be composted? (Source)
- If you have a garden, the output of your composting is that you get free, chemical-free fertilizer that your plants will thrive on.
- Other benefits for gardens include improved soil aeration and drainage, weed control and decreases the need for watering (which is definitely a big “pro” when Jordan is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world).
Step 3 – Know what can be composted
Every human being survives by eating organic matter (even though sometimes I doubt this is true after seeing all the chemical ingredients in packaged food these days). Because of this, everyone naturally will stockpile a LOT of compostable material in their day-to-day. Don’t believe me? Here are just a FEW examples:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Eggshells (crushed)
- Coffee grounds
- Loose leaf tea
- Used paper napkins and paper towels
- Unwaxed cardboard pizza boxes (ripped or cut into small pieces)
- Paper bags (shredded)
- The crumbs you sweep off of the counters and floors
- Cooked pasta and rice
- Stale bread, pitas, or tortillas
And the list goes on and on. Check out a list of compostable items from not only your kitchen but your bathroom, laundry room, office, etc. here.
Step 4 – Know what you need to do to start compost
Now that you know you are a valid candidate that should begin composting, you don’t have to make your decision yet on if you’ll become one of those tree-hugging hippies who compost. First, you should understand what you’ll need to start composting.
To start composting, basically, all you need is a small corner of your yard/balcony/terrace to start a compost pile using the compostable items in the list in step 3. However, in a yard, it can work, but a smaller terrace and balcony may not be an ideal place to just have a pile of organics. To avoid just having a pile, your options are the following:
- Go DIY and make your own simple composter. Find out how here or in this video.
- Buy one on the internet. You can buy on Amazon.com or Ubuy.com.
Step 5 – Deciding to compost
Now that you know what you’ll need to start composting, it’s time to decide that you will. Trust me, it is NOT hard to compost, but don’t take it from me. You can head over to the NGO Nour Al Barakah‘s community garden just off Mecca Street in the Al Rabieh district. There you can see composting in action and get some great tips. After all they’re pros as they teach all of their student volunteers how to compost.
If you decide you don’t want to compost at home (just yet), then you can drop off your compostable waste (no meat or bones, please) directly at the Nour Al Barakah center (map). Just bring your organic waste in a cardboard box and leave it at the center, they will compost it for you! Don’t forget to visit them every Saturday to buy wonderful composted soil at the Nour Al Barakah’s Farmers Market.
Step 6 – Learning how to compost
Now that you’ve decided to compost, you just need to learn how to do it. Whether you have your DIY composter set-up or one you bought, there are numerous helpful sites that teach you in easy steps how to use them. Since the type of composter you have makes the steps slightly different, here are some good websites to help you with your composting journey:
Step 7 – Compost!
Now you have all you need and you know what to do with it, it’s time to turn your organic waste into something useful. Mother Earth thanks you 🙂
Are you already composting or plan on starting? Share your experience below!