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Learn how to do your own recycling of food scraps and yard debris to feed your garden

COURTESY METRO  - Composting your food scraps and yard debris can improve the soil quality in your garden or flower beds.Why we care

Yard debris and food scraps make up 24 percent of landfill waste in the Metro region. Space isn't the only issue. As these organic materials decompose in the landfill, they generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Your garbage disposal may seem like a good solution for food scraps, but the water treatment system is very energy-intensive.

One option, if you live in Portland, Lake Oswego or Forest Grove, is to put organics into your yard debris bin. It will be transported to a compost facility.

You can buy finished compost for your garden, trees and shrubs, either in bulk or in bags. But it's more rewarding and cost-effective to make your own. Compost adds nutrients to your soil and increases the soil's ability to retain the nutrients and moisture.

Simple, positive change

Use these methods and tips to turn food scraps into compost:

• Make sure you keep meat, dairy and grease out of the mix.

• For a simple method, dig food scraps into the soil, covering with at least eight inches of dirt.

• Compost yard debris and food together, including vegetable and fruit trimmings, egg shells and coffee grounds. To prevent rodents, make sure your bin has a lid, a floor and no holes or gaps larger than a quarter-inch.

• Purchase a compost bin at a home improvement or gardening store, or from Metro (see oregonmetro.gov/tools-living/yard-and-garden/composting/buy-composter)

• Build your own composter; see Metro's instructions at: www.oregonmetro.gov/tools-living/yard-and-garden/composting/build-compost-bin

• Start a worm bin. Metro offers tips and plans for building your own at www.oregonmetro.gov/tools-living/yard-and-garden/composting/worm-composting

• Download Metro's brochure on home composting at www.oregonmetro.gov/sites/default/files/2010_home_composting_booklet.pdf

• For more advice or to improve your effectiveness, see resources on Metro's website at www.oregonmetro.gov/tools-living/yard-and-garden/composting

• Speak to a specialist at 503-234-3000.

Questions or feedback? Contact Jeanne Roy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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