Celebrating the History of Composting During Earth Week

By: Sara Mack, Marketing Manager

Earth Day, as we celebrate it today in America, has only been around for a few decades.  Earth Day was formally established in 1970 alongside the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency. However, the concept of environmental stewardship is hardly new; societies have had practices which care for the planet for centuries.

Although much of the popular narrative about environmental protection is euro-centric and focuses on the contributions of wealthy white males like Richard Nixon and John Muir, we know many of the regenerative agricultural practices that Compost Crew is working to revive have a different history. These practices, such as zero waste procedures like composting, were created through the hard work of indigenous planters and harvesters over many generations. 

As we celebrate our Earth, on Earth Day proper and every day of the year, it’s important to give credit where credit is due. Although it is impossible to know exactly where composting officially “started”, practices relating to composting were recorded in ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Native American, Scottish, and Chinese societies as well as in other communities where the practice was passed down orally. Certain Native American tribes even had the concept of composting built into their language. The Narragansetts, for example, use the word munnawhatteaûgs” for fish, which literally translates to “fertilizer” or “that which enriches the land”. The process of returning nutrients from organic waste back to the earth has long been an integral part of maintaining healthy soils that are able to continue to produce crops in a regenerative manner and sustain life on earth. 

Our Compost Crew team works to uphold these values on a daily basis, and we’re proud to work with organizations like Baltimore Community Fridge and Ward 4 Mutual Aid to ensure that our work to protect the environment also actively fights against instances of environmental injustice which can often mean that people of color and individuals of a lower socioeconomic status are predisposed to endure more of the symptoms of climate change via things like natural disasters and air pollution. 

This year during Earth Week, take time to reflect on the history of environmentalism in this country, and how your environmental work can also support the communities around you that might be most heavily impacted by climate change. Donating your time and money to organizations focused on environmental justice, working to fight food insecurity in your own community, and even simply getting started composting are good places to start.