I hate food waste. It drives me mad. When scraps enter my bin, I instantly feel guilty about those less fortunate than us who don't have affordable access to food. Food waste is also a massive contribution to climate change.
Producing, moving, storing and cooking food uses energy, fuel and water. Each of which, produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Furthermore, land for growing food is under great pressure, removing homes for wildlife. When food waste is sent to landfill, it is locked buried underground, and often contained in plastic, allowing no access to air. As a result, it breaks down ineffectively, releasing harmful methane.
Why even compost?
Avoiding food waste isn’t easy when you’ve got a big family, so I decided to do something about it. We wanted to start composting and using our scraps to feed the produce and flowers we’re growing ourselves. When you compost at home, oxygen helps the waste to decompose aerobically, reducing the amount of methane produced. Your compost at the end, is a nutrient-rich food product for your garden and will help improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels, and keep your soil's pH balance in check while helping to suppress plant disease. Win, win all around.
According to Recycle Now, composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in three months. That’s brilliant!
Where to start?
Our compost bin didn’t cost us a penny. We decided to up-cycle an old fence panel (darn, you wind!). We can’t believe how easy it was. After screwing it all together, we lined the inside with a cotton liner (leaving the bottom exposed to soil), created a gap at the bottom for access added a wooden lid. It was THAT simple. Don’t be fooled into buying expensive new ones, there are loads for sale secondhand on the Facebook selling site and Gumtree. I’ve known people to also recycle old wheelie bins and crates into compost bins. It is not essential for a compost heap to have a lid, however, a lid does help keep your compost heap warm and moist - just how the creepy crawlies like it. You don’t have to use wood. Simply weigh down old carpet or tarp will also do the trick. You can start composting at any time of the year, so there is no excuse to not start now!
Where to put it?
The most efficient place is to put your bin is somewhere with access to direct soil. This will help invertebrates enter your compost bin - a necessity to get things going! If possible, locate it where it’ll get sunshine during the day to warm it up and help with the composting process.
What to put in your compost bin:
A 50:50 mixture of 'greens' (garden cuttings, vegetable scraps & coffee grounds) and 'browns' (Autumn leaves, cardboard, egg boxes, fur, kitchen roll) will make the composting process works best. We keep a little compost bin on our kitchen counter which we regularly fill up and empty into our garden compost bin. Super easy!
What NOT to put in your bin:
Avoid adding bread, cat litter, dairy products, nappies, meat and fish scraps and anything plastic to stop your compost bin from becoming contaminated with dangerous germs and microplastics. This will also stop the attraction of rodents and cats.
It takes around nine to twelve months for your compost to become ready for use. So keep filling, sit back, and let nature work its magic. You can also turn your compost bin (give everything a big mix up) every 6 weeks to help speed up the process.
So, are you going to give it a go?
We’ve already started using some of our compost and it’s really lush! The perfect companion to growing our own produce and my daughter finds it so exciting watching the centipedes and worms burying into it! I really can't believe I've not had one in my garden until now.
This piece was created for Goupie by Emma Oldham to celebrate their move from recyclable plastic bags to compostable bags this month!