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What exactly is composting?

Updated: Mar 7, 2020

There is much confusion about composting these days. Composting is at an all time high in terms of popularity with consumers especially in green cities like Seattle, WA, Portland, OR and many others. Here is a simple definition of composting taken from Wikipedia to give us a high level view of composting:

"At the simplest level, the process of composting requires making a heap of wet organic matter known as green waste (leaves, food waste) and waiting for the materials to break down into humus after a period of weeks or months. Modern, methodical composting is a multi-step, closely monitored process with measured inputs of water, air, and carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials. The decomposition process is aided by shredding the plant matter, adding water and ensuring proper aeration by regularly turning the mixture. Worms and fungi further break up the material. Bacteria requiring oxygen to function (aerobic bacteria) and fungi manage the chemical process by converting the inputs into heat, carbon dioxide, and ammonium. The ammonium (NH+4) is the form of nitrogen used by plants. When available ammonium is not used by plants it is further converted by bacteria into nitrates (NO−3) through the process of nitrification.


Compost is rich in nutrients. It is used in gardens, landscaping, horticulture, and agriculture. The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. In ecosystems, compost is useful for erosion control, land and stream reclamation, wetland construction, and as landfill cover (see compost uses). Organic ingredients intended for composting can alternatively be used to generate bio-gas through anaerobic digestion."

Scientifically speaking, there are many complexities to this process of composting. Many people are familiar with "backyard composting" but in cities like Seattle, there is what we call "commercial composting" which is very different that what most people do in their backyards. Commercial composting involves large scale, highly regulated commercial processing facilities that can handle tens of thousands of yard of material collected from large cities.

Rooted is also an example of a commercial composting facility. Instead of composting just yard waste, we compost companion animals and create nutrient rich soil for our pet parent clients which we call Rooted Pet Memorial Soil. For more information on this, please visit our website

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