4 food compost options to save the planet one scrap at a time

Posted: 23 November 2021 3:37 pm
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These food compost options are easy, can be incorporated into your daily routine and don't involve you digging a hole in the ground (unless you want to do that).

Most of us are alarmed by the climate crisis, but few of us are actually willing to change our lifestyles – at least that's according to a study released by Kantar Public to coincide with the COP26 climate conference.

So if you've clicked on this article – then you're one step closer to not being part of that group.

Fortunately, you fall into the smaller bracket of virtuous, do-good individuals willing to roll up their sleeves (only necessary for some of these composting options) and make a positive environmental change.

This is good news, because Aussie households send on average around 4.9 kilograms of food waste to landfill every single week – that equates to nearly 300 kilograms per person each year.

To put this into perspective, that's like throwing 120 whole chickens in the bin.

When food waste is sent to a landfill, it decomposes without oxygen, releasing huge amounts of methane – a greenhouse gas around 34 times more environmentally damaging than carbon dioxide.

Global food waste is responsible for approximately 8% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Some councils have introduced food waste collection services, while others have trialled programs in the past, but nothing concrete has been done on a national level. So rather than wait on state and federal governments to change our habits for us, here are 4 food composting options you can do yourself.

1. Join a collection scheme

How does it work? Volunteer-run community networks like ShareWaste are an easy way to reduce your food waste with minimum effort. For example, with the ShareWaste app, you can connect with people in your area who will recycle your organic waste for you.

Level of ease: Very low maintenance. Get yourself a food waste container online or from your local hardware store, chuck your scraps in there and either put them out for collection or exchange with your host when you have enough for a contribution.

Cost: Around $40 for the food waste container. Otherwise, nothing, unless you use a kerbside collection service, which may have a membership fee.

Pros

  • It's good if you don't want to get your hands dirty.
  • It's good if you're in an apartment.
  • It's widely available in cities.
  • It's often free.

Cons

  • It's less accessible as you go out to the suburbs and rural areas of the country.

2. Become a worm farmer

How does it work? Once you've got yourself a worm farm, just add food scraps and cover them with a piece of moist newspaper to keep them cool. The worms will munch through your food and create worm castings which collect in the next layer. This can be used on your soil or as a potting mix. The worm juice or "worm tea" will collect in the bottom layer and can be used as a liquid fertiliser.

Level of ease: Low maintenance. You can chuck food in on a daily basis as part of your meal time clean-up and you only need to change the old bedding every 6 to 9 months.

Cost: Under $100 for a worm farm (and a bag of worms) and virtually no maintenance costs.

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Pros

  • It requires little maintenance.
  • Good for small-space gardens.
  • They can virtually eliminate your food waste – worms can eat up to 4kg of your food waste every week.
  • They turn your food waste into good stuff, like plant food and liquid fertilizer which can be used to improve the health of your garden.
  • If you have a family, they're a great way to teach your kids about sustainability.

Cons

  • The worms are a little fussy – you can't give them onions, garlic, dairy, meat and bones, fish or oils.
  • It can attracts pests and flies.
  • You can overfeed them.

3. Ferment your food with a bokashi bin

How does it work? Developed in Japan, a bokashi bin usually sits on your kitchen bench – you can usually pick one up at your local hardware store or online. Chuck in your chopped up food scraps (which can include meat, fish and cheese) and pickle with a Bokashi spray. This breaks your waste down into traditional compost, which after 2 weeks fermentation and 2 weeks curing underground, can be put in your green compost bin or used on plants.

Level of ease: It requires some maintenance. For example, it needs regular additives, 2 to 3 sprays per day and you need to push scraps down to compact the layers each time you use it.

Cost: Around $100.

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Pros

  • It's good for apartments or if you don't have a garden.
  • It can be kept inside.
  • Used properly, it shouldn't attract pests

Cons

  • It can produce an acidic smell.
  • It's technically not compost but rather a type of fermentation.
  • It requires a 2 week curing period underground.

4. Get in touch with your local community garden

How does it work? If you don't fancy composting or worm farming, look for a local community garden. Some councils run collection services so it's a good idea to check that first. Otherwise, get yourself a compost bin and get in touch with your local community garden about dropping off your scraps with them.

Level of ease: Minimum maintenance required, except for dropping off your food scraps at the garden.

Cost: It's generally free.

Pros

  • It's good if you don't want to compost yourself.
  • It's convenient if there's a local garden near where you live.
  • It's a good way to meet your neighbours.

Cons

  • It can be time-consuming if your local garden is far away.
  • It's not an option that's available to everyone.

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