Composting for the Win

As the sun comes out, the snow melts away, and the worms poke their little squishy bodies out of the earth, we can feel summer coming back. However, summer is not only a time for tanning, it is also a time for growth, more specifically: vegetable and fruit growth! And what better way to enhance your garden’s productivity this summer than with a little compost? 

Composting is a way to recycle leftover food and fall leaves (and other organic matter) into natural fertilizers that are good for the soil[3]. In other words, composting is the aerobic decomposition of organic materials[2]. It basically takes our organic matter waste and turns it into something useful. But why is it useful? That is because when organic matter decomposes, it releases the nutrients it has acquired throughout its life back into the environment. And so the plants that grow in one’s garden can benefit from the nutrients that come from the decaying matter.

There are many benefits to composting, either for your garden or for the general health of the planet. First, composting reduces the amount of waste in our landfills. By being sent to landfills, organic matter is not processed adequately, which increases the cost of waste control for municipalities[3]. Indeed, food scraps are a large and heavy part of the waste stream, which makes it pricey to take care of[2]. It also reduces food waste on a personal level. In fact, an average American family of four throws away about 150 American dollars worth of food each month[2]. By composting, the average family would be able to reinvest this wasted money into their garden or into their municipality. 

Then, it reduces the emissions of methane in the atmosphere. When organic matter is sent to landfills, it is buried under tons of other waste so it does not have access to the oxygen necessary to undergo aerobic respiration (as compost would). Instead, it undergoes anaerobic respiration which produces, as a side product, biogas (50% methane, 50% carbon dioxide)[3] and a pleasant smell of rotten eggs. However, methane is very bad for the environment as it traps more heat than carbon dioxide and, therefore, enhances climate change[4]. It is known that waste sent to landfills is the third biggest emitter of methane[4]

Moreover, as mentioned earlier, compost contains necessary nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, for our gardens[3]. And, in addition to being beneficial for personal gardens, compost could greatly improve the agricultural system, if farms were to use it instead of using damaging fertilizers and pesticides. 

Moving on, soil containing compost has great water conserving abilities[3]. Using compost in agricultural soil would then solve problems faced by farmers, notably the difficulty of obtaining water and the installation of water irrigation systems. It is also good for personal gardens, as the gardener saves on time spent watering his or her garden. 

Finally, municipal composting, as we have seen in the past years with Lévis’ brown bin or Québec’s purple bags, creates green jobs which are highly profitable for the community and for the future of the Earth.

Composting in Québec City, however, is not solely used to create nutrient-rich soil. In fact, you might have seen the purple bags in your neighbor’s waste bin, or they might have been in your own garbage bin. These bags are meant for organic waste, like food scraps. When they are sent to the sorting center, a machine detects them out of all the waste and sends it to another facility where they burn this organic waste to turn it into renewable natural gas. With this composting project, the city foresees that 18,000 tons of greenhouse gas will be deviated from being emitted every year[1]. This is a great improvement, even if the city is somewhat late to the composting trend.

My family has been composting for years and there are many more benefits one can find in composting. For instance, one year, we unknowingly grew pumpkins in our garden because some pumpkin seeds had germinated in our compost. What a pleasant surprise! Another advantage, if one is fond of fishing, is the abundance of worms in the compost. Why pay for fish bait if you have it in your own backyard? Anyhow, I deeply encourage you to compost because it is easy and beneficial for the Earth. And if you are worried about the smell, they sell compost bins with filters, like this one, which deletes the smell of organic waste decaying in your kitchen.


[1] “Biométhanisation.” Ville de Québec, 2024,

[2]“Composting.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2023,

[3]Hu, Shelia. “Composting 101.” NRDC, July 2020, [4]“What’s the deal with methane?” UN environment programme, Oct. 2022,

[4]“What’s the deal with methane?” UN environment programme, Oct. 2022,

By Danaé Morin

Hi everyone, my name is Danaé and I am a third year student in the Arts, Litterature, and Communications and the Natural Sciences programs. I am interested in books, movies, and just fiction in general. So that is what I plan on writing about this semester!

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