FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Stop Food Waste Day is Wednesday, and it’s meant to educate the public about the importance of reducing the amount of food they waste. One solution to help cut down on waste is composting.

Composting is a process that takes plant materials and food scraps and recycles them by turning them into a gardening fertilizer. Things like leaves, grass clippings, wood chips and fruit and vegetable scraps can be used for composting. Other food scraps that can be used include coffee grounds, eggshells and nutshells. Cardboard, shredded paper and hair can be in composts as well.

Ricky Kemery, a gardening expert and educator in Fort Wayne, said composting is a great way to recycle nutrients back into the earth.

“Everything will compost overtime. It’s part of our natural system,” Kemery said. “If you look at a forest and how the leaves fall from trees, they compost on the ground and recycle the nutrients back into the trees.”

Things that you cannot use for composting include meat scraps or animal products.

Composting can provide many benefits including improving soil structure, infertility and disease resistance for plants. Kemery said it’s important to have a mixture of both green and brown matter to put in the system where it can heat up and go from lawn waste to material that can help your soil.

“The idea is that your compost should be 4 feet by 4 feet by 3 feet and that’s why the bins exist to put it in there,” Kemery said. “You have to have a lot of pressure built up by the materials being tightly packed together to get it to heat up properly. Heating it up can get rid of pathogens.”

Kemery prefers the layer system, also called lasagna gardens, where you use a raised bed and put in the layers of compost beforehand.

“The stuff you put in will compost overtime and turn into the cheapest, best soil you can ever get,” he said. “It’s also good to use scraps from plants that have grown or weeds as that green material.”

It’s vital to keep the compost moist, especially if you include hay or dry leaves. The Farmer’s Almanac recommends spraying it with water during the summer time when it’s dry.

For people looking to get into composting, he recommends checking out university websites to get information about where to begin.

“People then have to decide what type of system they want to use and determine where you want to put it. You want it to get part sun, not full sun so it doesn’t dry out too quickly,” Kemery said. “The benefits to doing this are huge. You’re reusing food scraps that otherwise would be burned or in the garbage.”