Composting is something we have been meaning to look into for some time. Placing our food scraps in the bin has always felt so wasteful. I know with renting it is something that is most likely not at the forefront of people’s mind, but did you know that it is actually super easy nowadays to compost anywhere? And no you don’t need a big bulky backyard fly ridden bin like the old days! A couple of blogs ago we explored the catastrophic detriment food wastage has on our Planet and we had some handy tips on to help you transition to reducing your food wastage properly. We were so inspired to start composting, but to be honest had no idea how or where to start. Well fear no more because we accepted the challenge and we hope you do the same!
Starting a compost bin can divert up to 50% of waste away from your domestic garbage bins that end up in landfill and contributing to the second largest source of methane in our atmosphere. Methane gas has 25 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide!
Not only does composting reduce the effects of climate change and greatly improve soil quality but using compost in gardens reduces the need for water by an average of 30%. If you’re a crazy plant lady like me, compost is a natural alternative to chemical fertilizer, (the excess of which runs into waterways and can be harmful to fish and other aquatic species). It will increase nutrients in your soil, wards off plant diseases and improves soil structure.
Composting is also amazing to get the kids involved in addition to recycling! Once you realise how easy it is, hopefully you can inspire your neighbourhood to get on board as well.
Ok so where to start?
Composting is just one option when it comes to making use of your food scraps. You may have also heard of wormfarms and bokashi bins and been super confused like us as to which option is best for your household. Thanks to Compost Revolution, we have included some handy tips on how to choose a method that is right for you at the bottom of this page.
So after careful consideration, we chose the composting method! And we discovered the key to good compost is a delicate balance of carbon and nitrogen, or greens and browns. Easy to remember - greens are your fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings and browns are things like leaves, straw and shredded paper.
Read on for the technical stuff or scroll past for the juicy stuff!
The browns (carbon) act as a source of energy, whilst the greens (nitrogen) build cell structure. Microorganisms within the pile break down the organic matter and produce carbon dioxide, water, heat, and humus (mature compost). These little organisms also help to aerate the soil and ward off plant disease! The suggested carbon to nitrogen ratio is 2:1, two parts fruit and veggie scraps to one dense part shredded leaves, hay or paper!
What to compost
- Fruit and vegetable scraps including citrus peels as long as they are cut up finely
- Egg shells
- Coffee grounds (and coffee filters)
- Tea bags (only organic material, otherwise rip them open and compost only the leaves)
- Loose leaf tea
- Old herbs and spices
- Stale seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame – chopped up so they don't sprout)
- Avocado seeds (again, chopped up to avoid sprouting)
- Old jelly, jam or preserves
- Bamboo skewers (snapped up into pieces)
- Paper cupcake or muffin cups
- Used paper napkins and paper towels
- Paper or cardboard (shredded)
- Envelopes (minus the plastic window)
- Pencil shavings
- Post it notes
- Old rope and twine (plastic free)
Odds and ends
- Human or animal hair (ew gross but good to know!)
- Old cotton clothing cut up into small pieces or shredded
- Dry dog or cat food
- Vacuum dust
What not to compost
- Walnuts – they contain a chemical called juglone which is toxic to some plants
- Meat or bones
- Dairy products
- Cat litter
- Cooking oils
- Diseased plants
- Heavily coated or printed paper
This is not the be all and end all to composting - there is plenty of stuff out there on the web to guide you!
I know we harp on about it all the time but it’s these small changes you can make in your daily life that really add up and have a HUGE collective impact. Imagine if every single household took a stance on food waste. Imagine the impact that would create globally!
Saving your scraps and turning them into something that will nourish your garden, and ultimately your family is such fantastic step in ensuring our sustainable future.
Composting works by aerobic decomposition (breaks down with air) which creates heat. It needs garden waste as well as food scraps.
Composting suits if you:
- Have garden waste (50/50 food scraps & garden waste).
- Have space on bare earth to put the compost bin.
The benefits are:
- You can add a great variety of food and other materials than in a wormfarm including garlic, onion and citrus.
- You can recycle your garden waste.
- You can add larger volumes of materials.
- You get rich compost for your garden and pot plants.
Wormfarming works by worms and other micro-organisms eating food scraps. No garden waste needed.
Wormfarming works for you if:
- don’t have any garden materials to get rid of.
- Don’t have access to any bare earth.
- Have a small household or you don’t produce a lot of food scraps.
The benefits are:
- You can collect the liquid and solid fertilisers from your wormfarm.
- You can keep your wormfarm in a courtyard, on a balcony or even inside.
- You don’t need to add garden materials.
Bokashi uses anaerobic bacteria to ferment food waste, including meat, dairy, bread and small bones, into a readily decomposable from in a sealed bin, minimising insects and odour.
Bokashi suits if you:
- Have somewhere to bury the fermented semi-solid matter
- Would also like to compost meat, dairy, bread and small bones.
The benefits are:
- It’s compact and sealed so can be used indoors or outdoors.
- It can handle meat, dairy, bread, small bones, citrus, onion and most other food scraps.
- It produces nitrogen-rich liquid and semi-solid fertiliser that, when diluted is great for pot plants and the garden.