Jacob Melvin, co-founder of the Permabuds Cincinnati Compost Community, turns a community compost pile in East Price Hill.

Collect your food waste in a bucket and bury it in your yard under some dry leaves, I dare you. Compost can be as easy as that, and everyone should be doing it.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food scraps and yard waste make up over 28% of our trash. This organic material does not break down properly amongst inorganic plastics in landfills, instead emitting methane, a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.

With more and more methane build up in the atmosphere, the impacts of the climate crisis and global catastrophes will only worsen. Still, about 30 to 40% of our food supply is consistently wasted in the meantime, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

So, what is the key to combating food waste? In one word: compost, or a collection of equal parts green and brown matter that breaks down into nutrient-rich soil-like material. The green matter consists of plant-based – no oils, meat or dairy – kitchen scraps, and the brown matter consists of brown yard scraps, paper, cardboard, etc. The rich material that’s created, in short, helps plants grow.

A natural, completely organic method of enhancing soil health, reducing (or even eradicating) food waste and their emissions, and ending the need for chemical fertilizers, composting has absolutely no downsides.

Synthetic, chemical fertilizers are derived from petroleum, the same place we get gas for cars and lighter fluid for grills, eating up our very limited resources, but closed-loop compost makes using synthetic options look downright ridiculous. It’s a free, natural, and extremely easy way to make food waste disappear and even reap the benefits of its nutrients.

In the UC area, the Permabuds Cincinnati Compost Community, a collective of environmental justice advocates, has created an urban compost setup available to everyone. With compost drop off points across the city, they make it an accessible practice for anyone willing to collect their onion and citrus peels. Check out their Instagram for more information and to sign-up.

Even before I joined this urban compost community, I found that burying my kitchen scraps essentially made them disappear in the earth. They must have benefitted some of the plants in my yard or increased biodiversity in the soil, but what I mostly cared about was that my food and cardboard never went into the landfill. Instead, it disappeared to do its cyclical duty as a nutrient-rich organic matter.

Whether you decide to join a larger community of composters or let your food decay in a hole in your backyard, it does not have to be complicated to make a small difference. There’s nothing dirty about making a bit of healthy dirt.