Australians are moving to a greener way of living, with a strong focus on the way we shop, recycle and reuse. One of the simplest ways to minimise our household waste, while also saving money, is composting.
ABCs The War on Waste found that on average one-third of all household rubbish was food waste – and with 3.3 million tonnes produced in Australia every year, that is a lot of landfill.
And while sending food and green waste to the landfill may not seem so bad for the environment, it is actually one of the largest producers of methane gas. Composting this same waste at home, no matter how big or small your spaces, stops the production of methane gas and gives you everything you need for a thriving garden.
What is Compost?
Compost is green and food waste that has been broken down by naturally occurring bacteria, leaving behind mineral-rich material perfect for mixing through soil for use in gardens.
Regardless of whether you live in an apartment or on land, there is a simple solution to start composting and saving.
Five Ways to Compost in Any Space
Large Outdoor Space: The more space the better. People with large outdoor areas can purchase a large compost bin or build an open compost pile, which offers a great way to produce large quantities of fertile compost.
Average Outdoor Space: A smaller compost bin or tumbler works well in the average Australian backyard. The ability to tumble the bin regularly makes keeping the compost mixed and aerated effortless. Tumbler bins also tend to break down the materials faster, meaning a better turn around.
Small Outdoor Space: While it isn’t for everyone, a worm farm is a simple and very effective way to create compost. You just have to add your food waste to the farm and the worms do all the hard work and create a liquid compost.
Indoors: There are a range of indoor compost bins designed to sit on a kitchen bench. The leader is Bokashi which uses beneficial bacteria to break down and ferment food waste in two to four weeks. The result is a rich liquid compost ideal for feeding back to plants and vegetable gardens.
No Space: Many local councils have implemented community garden schemes in which residents work together to create a thriving food and flower garden. They accept food waste and compost donations, and you can contact your local council to find out more.
Once you have chosen your composting solution it is just a matter of keeping your food scraps separate, and adding an even mix of green and brown waste. Green waste is quick to break down and is full of nitrogen and moisture, while brown waste adds structure and allows the compost to breathe to keep it healthy.
Each compost solution has its own method, and ways of aerating (moving) the compost as it breaks down, and with a little practice you will be producing an abundance of nutrient-rich compost to keep your vegetable garden thriving.
What Can You Add to Compost?
- Green Waste: Vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, tea leaves, grass clippings, leaves, branches.
- Brown Waste: Dry garden cuttings, straw, newspaper, cardboard, and animal waste such as horses, chickens, and cows.
- Never Add: Meat or animal products (such as bones, eggs, butter, yoghurt etc), weeds, pet waste, tea and coffee bags, anything synthetic or containing chemicals.