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April 19, 2011

Get Started on Your Own Compost Pile Today

MADISON - A Cedarburg High School junior submitted the winning design for a new poster contest aimed at encouraging people to compost waste from their homes.

winning design
Drew Wandschneider's winning design
WDNR Photo

Drew Wandschneider's design was selected as the winning image from more than 40 entries received from high schools across Wisconsin, according to Elisabeth Olson, recycling and waste reduction education and outreach coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR announced the new poster contest in February, with the theme of Garbage to Gardens: Compost Grows. Wandschneider's design will be featured on the front side of a two-sided poster about composting. The second side will contain commonly asked questions, recipes for compost and other educational composting information. The poster will be inserted as a supplement to the June edition of the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine and sent to more than 80,000 subscribers. It also will be distributed statewide as an educational resource for schools, businesses, communities and individuals.

The release of our Garbage to Gardens: Compost Grows poster will coincide with International compost Awareness Week, May 1-7. Compost Awareness Week, sponsored by the US Composting Council, seeks to educate citizens, businesses, schools and others on the importance of composting. To get started on your own composting pile, see the tips below:

Keep it simple. Leaves make great mulch applied either in the fall or stored for use next year. It's easy to build or buy a simple structure for composting or to compost leaves in a pile with a little care. You can also mow leaves and let them and grass clippings enrich your lawn. Bury or till leaves into your garden to add healthy organic matter and nutrients to the soil.

Mix it up. If you're composting in a pile or bin, the key to good compost is having a mix of "browns" (leaves, dead plants and small branches) and "greens" (grass clippings, green plants and vegetable food scraps). Try to layer these materials and keep the compost well mixed.

Supply the basics. Compost needs fresh air and water to help microbes break the material down and prevent odors. If you compost in a covered bin, make sure to add some water. Turn the compost to make sure air gets mixed in throughout.

Expand your horizons. Once you get started with yard materials, you can add in vegetable food scraps, some types of paper and other items. Recycling food waste like vegetable trimmings, tea bags, coffee grounds and eggshells is best done in a covered bin, again layering with brown material. Do not add meats, bones and dairy as these may smell and attract pests. Worms, especially red worms, in indoor bins are another way to recycle food waste.

Compost and worm bins can be homemade or commercially manufactured. Inquire about compost bins with your local retailers, or search the Internet for "compost bins" to find instructions for making your own bin and to see a wide variety of manufactured bins. Local ordinances may apply to home composting. Contact your local officials to learn more.

More information on composting is available online on the DNR website. More information can also be found on the UW-Extension website (search publications for "composting").

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Elisabeth Olson (608) 264-9258.

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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