At Elizabeth Few Studio, we strive for sustainability and take great measures to ensure that everything we do is as environmentally-friendly and resourceful as possible. One thing we’ve gotten in the groove of behind-the-scenes at the studio is COMPOSTING. What once was thought of as a practice executed only by hardcore hippies is now a nationwide movement that’s been made easy for at-home execution. We’ve always been big on buying local produce, supporting farmer’s markets, and eating organic when possible— but now we’re taking it to the next level, starting with our scraps.
What is composting? Essentially, composting is recycling your organic material waste (leftover veggies, apple cores, carrot tops, etc.) and reusing it to enrich your soil, thus giving it back to the Earth. This process happens naturally in a forest when leaves fall from trees, uneaten fruit is left to decompose, and plants wither away through a decaying process which in turn delivers nutrients back into the soil— in an urban setting, this is made possible through composting!
When you begin composting, you will need to have the right equipment. Whether you’re operating outdoors or indoors, you will need to begin a pile using natural compost (which is essentially a few scoops of soil from a local forest floor— like Pony Pasture) and start it off outdoors in order to get beneficial organisms to aerate the compost. Compost has two main territories: green material and brown material. The first few layers will need to alternate between these two territories. Examples of green, moist ingredients are food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, etc. Brown, dry materials are straw, leaves, sawdust pellets and wood ashes. The brown materials allow airflow while the green materials provide moisture and a healthy environment for beneficial organisms to grow.
When we first began composting, I was worried about the smell. However, when you correctly execute the process— there should be no unwelcome, smelly odors. This is done by properly dividing your compost bin between greens and browns, as well as ensuring there is an adequate amount of water and oxygen. Fruit flies? Too much water. Stinky smell? You may be composting the wrong materials. A backyard compost bin shouldn’t include bones, meat scraps, dairy, or bread— while these are organic materials, they attract pests and unhelpful buggies (and smells). Every few weeks, turn the pile over with a shovel to aerate the components and speed up the process.
When your compost is ready to use, it will have a crumbly, smooth texture— however, none of the ingredients should be recognizable (aside from the occasional avocado pit, which is hard to break down). This means, no leaves or leftovers should be clear to the eye. Did you know that compost is often referred to by farmers as “black gold”? That’s because this nutrient rich material will be very dark in color when it’s completed. Similarly, the fragrance should be like that of a dark forest floor— wet, farmy, and free from ammonia. Not seeing these results? Worry not, your compost simply needs more time to mature.
I was attracted to the idea of composting because it reminded me so much of our process at Elizabeth Few Studio— when we create our beloved kimonos and slips, we often have a lot of leftover fabric due to the fact that a lot of our apparel is cut on the bias (in order to get that perfect, tailor-made fit & feel). We recycle this fabric in our eye-masks and scrunchies, so as nothing goes to waste! Similarly, we compost our leftover leaves and flowers when the dying process is complete. What efforts are you making this year to live a more sustainable life?
For more information on composting, visit http://www.compostrva.com/