Did you know that composting your food waste is one of the most powerful ways that individuals can reduce their environmental impact on the planet? It’s free, so easy, and goes a long way in fighting climate change!
First of all, what is composting?
Composting is simply separating your food waste from your other trash, and instead of tossing it in those nasty black bags with everything else, you return the food scrap to the soil (where they originated) and allow them to nourish the earth instead of end up on a rubbish dump pile. It’s so simple and so effective.
How do I compost?
Practically, you would keep a container of sorts in your kitchen with a lid (you must use a lid as it gets smelly and attracts flies). When cooking, or finished eating, decant all your scraps into the container. Most natural products can go in here- tissues, food scraps, meat, 100% cotton items (such as a tea towel that’s ruined and needs to be thrown out), dead flowers…. Think anything that came from the earth can go back into the earth.
Then, you need to decide on your composting system. We have a forest at the back of our property, so we have a patch in the ground where we decant our food waste to and cover with dead leaves and repeat the process over and over. It’s far from the house, it doesn’t attract flies, and it’s nourishing the ground around it.
Another option is worm farms. I have not had much experience with this method, but I do know it’s a great option if you want nutrients from the decomposed waste at your disposal. With this method you need to be careful what you toss as worms can’t eat meat, cotton etc. So read up about it here, and once you’ve got it right, the worm pee will be a beautiful juice you can dilute with water and use to nourish any plants you chose.
Another option, sort of a combination of the two abovementioned methods is a bokashi bin. It’s like a compost heap in that you just put everything in the bin, but similar to a worm farm in that the longer you leave the bokashi bin, the more decomposed to waste gets, and eventually you have a juice that seems out into a tray at the bottom of the bin which you can decant using a tap attached to the bin. Listen to this short podcast for everything you need to know!
All of these methods are easy to manage and prove the most sustainable way to get rid of your food waste.
Most importantly, why???
Why go through all this effort instead of just tossing your food waste? Surely it ends up in the earth eventually?
1. Our food waste, when on top of a landfill, doesn’t biodegrade, it rots. When food rots, it releases harmful methane gases into the environment which is proportionately more potent than carbon dioxide. So think burning fossil fuels and deforestation as equivalent to tossing your food scraps into the bin.
2. Food waste is a beautiful nourishing agent for your soil. The nutrients released when food waste is disposed of properly are a much needed and much-appreciated benefit to your garden and indoor plants. Not only is it a free fertilizer, but you are also benefiting the environment by reducing the need for big brands to produce chemically made fertilizers. The entire production process and all the energy used and wasted can be avoided if more households made their own fertilizer with their food waste.
3. Encourages a circular economy- where everything you need is making a full circle from the ground back to the ground. This is an especially rewarding process if you’re growing your own veggies…
4. Saves money. The start-up costs are minimal, and the long term saving on your plants (that will survive better), on fertilizer, and on black bags used to toss the food waste into.
If you compost at home, I’d love to hear how you do it, and how you find the experience. Is it satisfying, laborsome, or manageable?
P.s. If you’re looking for some other ways to reduce your carbon footprint, read this blog post here on 19 easy ways to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle.