Gone are the days of hiding a heap of rotting food and garden clippings at the back of the yard, manually turning it with a shovel every week while swatting away rodents.
These days, composting is a pretty simple process and there are many options available for the smallest apartment to large family homes.
If you still need a little convincing before taking the leap, then sink your teeth into these gobsmacking stats.
When food gets thrown out with other rubbish, it slowly rots in the oxygen-starved environment of the landfill and emits methane, a greenhouse gas 25-times more toxic than the carbon pollution that comes out of your car exhaust.
READ MORE: A beginner’s guide to composting at home
On the other hand, when food waste and other organic material are composted, it breaks down in a way that produces little to no emissions.
Diverting food waste from landfill is a vital way we can all reduce global warming. For every tonne of food waste not sent to landfill, almost one tonne of CO2 emissions is saved.
Compost is also great for giving your garden a boost, especially if you’re growing vegetables. It’s full of finite nutrients that are as important to plant life as sunlight and water.
To start composting you just need to decide on your solution, invest in the vessel or do-it-yourself and dive in.
Here are four easy steps to get you started:
1. How to reduce food waste in your kitchen
First up, take note of why food is being binned and start to reduce the amount of food your household is actually throwing out in the first place.
- Cook bigger meals so you can take leftovers to work and save money on takeaway lunches.
- Plan weekly meals so you know how much to buy, instead of having vegetables go off before they’re used.
- Make the most of every part of the vegetable, including skins, leaves and peel; it’s almost always edible and just as delicious.
- Cook up and freeze food before it expires
2. Choose a compost bin that’s right for you
There are so many fantastic compost systems out there, it just depends on your space and needs. If you have a garden, consider a typical compost bin. Some compost bins require turning regularly, others are designed with an internal lung, so you literally drop your food and garden waste in and forget about it until it’s ready.
If you have a yard but no garden to spread the compost onto, then consider a green cone as it only requires emptying every 3-4 years. If you only have a balcony or windowsill, consider an indoor or benchtop unit.
Worm farms are great too, however, worms are a little fussier about what goes in and don’t get through as much volume, so it’s often good to have a worm farm in conjunction with a compost bin.
What you need to begin a compost bin
As well as the actual bin, you’ll also need a few things to get started successfully:
- A small indoor compost pail – for storing food scraps from the kitchen. You can use any sealable container such as an ice cream bucket, or you can opt for something more aesthetically appealing.
- Carbon material – aka the brown stuff: twigs, paper, dried leaves. It’s good to start with a layer of this to aerate the bottom of the bin.
- If you’ve opted to make your own bin or are using an open system you’ll need some chicken wire to lay under and around the bin to fend off pesky rodents.
Handy hint: Many local councils now offer subsidies or free compost systems and worm farms.
3. Start collecting your food scraps in a small compost pail
You can keep your pail under the sink, beside your bin or on your bench top. You can compost all manner of things, from coffee grounds, cooked pasta and hair.
If in doubt, a quick Google search will give you your answer, which more often than not is yes.
Layering food waste with carbon material like dried leaves and twigs, newspaper and even dirt means your compost won’t smell.
4. Empty your compost bin as required and nourish your soil
Once your compost is ready (it will look and smell like dark brown rich earth and usually takes around 4-6 months), spread it around.
Add it to potted plants, dig it in around trees, ‘turn it’ into your vegie patch or garden beds, fertilise the lawn with it or give it to your friends, neighbours or local community garden.