Food waste is a major problem for the environment. If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest contributor to greenhouse emissions globally. By weight, food waste is the largest item in American landfills. These are pretty sobering facts to reflect on when thinking about 690 million people around the world who live in hunger.
You may wonder why organic waste is so bad…It can break down in a matter of weeks, compared to plastics which take hundreds of years to decompose.
Well, the problem really arises when food scraps end up in the rubbish. Organic waste like food decomposes slowly, releasing methane which is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
A far better option than throwing your food scraps in the bin is to start a home compost. Here are a few tips on how you can start composting at home – even if you live somewhere with no outdoor space.
Step 1. Choosing your perfect home compost bin
If you have limited to no outdoor space and want to compost your kitchen food scraps, there are loads of options and price points for composts or alternative ways you can compost.
If you don’t have an outdoor space, don’t let that stop you from composting. You can:
- Purchase a countertop food composter. An indoor composter uses heat, aeration and pulverisation to break down your food waste. They’re contained, so you don’t need to worry about any bad smells.
- Check to see if your local council has options to compost your food in an organic waste kerbside bin. You can store your organic food waste in a separate bin in your kitchen, and then dispose of it in a compostable-grade garbage bag in your organic waste bin.
- Get a vermicompost a.k.a a worm farm. Some smaller worm farms can even be kept indoors. The resulting liquid from your worms is an elixir for your plants -one of the best natural fertilisers you can get.
- Check out an app called, Share Waste, available in Australia and New Zealand. Share Waste connects you with people who wish to recycle their food scraps, and shows you nearby households and businesses where you can drop off your food scraps.
If you have an outdoor space like a garden or balcony, you have loads of different options to choose from:
- D.I.Y composts – if you want to save money and cut down on the environmental impact of buying a new compost bin, you can always make your own. Here’s a great step-by-step blog on building your own home compost bin.
- A tumbler compost – A compost tumbler is a fully sealed container that can be rotated to mix the composting materials. The sealed container also helps contain the heat generated by the composting process, thereby speeding up the process of converting kitchen and yard waste into compost.
- Vermicomposts – otherwise known as worm farms, use worms to break down organic waste and turn it into a nutrient-rich compost, along with liquid gold worm pee, which is one of the best natural fertilisers for your plants. Check out our blog on how to start your own worm farm.
- Continuous composts – Continuous composters require less work than other composting methods and don’t have the problem of clumpy compost which can be a downside of compost tumblers. All you have to do is put your waste in the top, wait for it to break down and then open the bottom of the bin to collect your finished compost. They’re called continuous bins because you can continuously put new scraps in the top without disturbing the decomposing waste underneath.
Step. 2 What can and can’t go in a home compost?
You CAN compost old food scraps – including eggshells, fruits and veggies – plus bamboo, cotton, egg cartons, paper, cardboard, even hair. The resulting compost becomes a nutrient-rich soil that is truly wonderful for your plants.
You CAN’T compost dairy or meat products,
It’s also important to note that while some products say “compostable” on them — like “compostable bags” and “compostable wipes” – they are only compostable in industrial facilities, and are not suited to home composting.
Check out this TikTok we love that breaks down what does and doesn’t belong in your compost:
3. Top tips to maintaining your home compost
- Do not put dairy or meat products in your compost
- Aerate your compost every few weeks by turning it over. Worms and other insects and bugs play an important role in maintaining your compost, and need air to survive
- When you add fresh material, make sure you mix it in with the lower layers
- Maintain the moisture levels in your compost weekly. A good way to tell if your compost is too dry is to pick up a handful of compost; it should be about the consistency of a damp sponge
- Keep your compost in a cool, dry and shaded place
- Try to shred or cut up materials before placing them in your compost – this helps things break down faster and prevents them from rotting or going bad.
Consider these kick-starter tips to set you on your composting journey. Once you’ve mastered the basics, there is loads of great information and tips out there to help you finesse the art of composting.