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If you want to do something with your veggie food scraps that gives them a second life and help out your garden composting is the answer!
There’s little a garden loves more than being fertilised with decomposed organic matter, aka your food scraps, as it provides essential nutrients to help it thrive.
Why Should We Compost?
Composting not only reduces your food scraps to plant-loving nutrients, it also has a significant impact on the environment around you. By creating your own compost, you are reducing the use and need of chemical fertilisers, as well as decreasing methane emissions in landfill. In Australia alone, 8.2 million tonnes of food waste is generated each year, most of which ends up in landfill. When food accumulates in landfill, it begins to decompose (broken down by bacteria through anaerobic digestion, meaning there’s not enough oxygen reaching all the food waste). Because of the lack of oxygen, bacteria in the waste produces methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas.
This is why the simple act of composting can have an enormous positive impact on the health of our planet. Although many of us believe we need a large garden or mini farm to be able to compost, the truth is composting is something we all can do at home, pretty easily, and cost efficiently as nature basically does all the work. And just to address the “smell” concern from the get-go, composting mostly only releases a smell when food scraps are mixed with non-organics (like plastic). Now that plastic bags have been phased out, there really isn’t a better time or reason to get onboard with composting to reduce your wet, smelly rubbish that comes from food decay.
To help you work out which composting system is right for you, we’ve listed a few easy composting solutions in an effort to avoid sending anymore food scraps to landfill. Your garden, your chickens and your community will you love for it, keep reading to find out how:
Image: Starter kit/ Urban Composter
Australian made Urban Composter offers a quick and easy solution that aids in demystifying how to go about reducing food waste at home. Now available at F&F, this stylish kitchen bench-top composting system turns your scraps (we’re talking off-cuts, peels, coffee and general leftovers) into nutrient-rich fertiliser your plants will love.
The whole system is incredibly simple to use and goes to work the second the scraps are tossed in. The sophisticated design is comprised of an anaerobic composting system that uses microorganisms to ferment food scraps so they can quickly break down when buried into soil. This fermentation process is activated by the Compost Accelerator spray which contains microorganisms to help break down the food waste and the secret to the clean smelling compost. Each time you place your scraps in the Urban Composter, pump your spray around 2-3 times to begin the fermentation. Your food is now basically pickling inside the bucket creating highly acidic conditions which means no smell, no pests and no methane. In as little as a few days you will be able to drain off your homemade 100% organic and nutrient rich fertiliser from the tap which you dilute with water for use on your houseplants or in the garden. When the Urban Composter is full, you can tip the scraps into a larger outdoor compost bin or you can bury the waste.
Image: Simple steps/ Urban Composter
Even if you don’t have access to a garden, you can still use the Urban Composter to reduce your food waste and its effects on the environment. If you have a balcony, you can create your own compost by mixing the contents from your Urban Composter into a large tub of soil to use in pot-plants (they can’t get enough of this type of nourishment) or give to friends to encourage their green thumbs. As a last resort, including investigating if your local council does organic waste pickups, (see below), your fermented waste can be added to your rubbish bin as you’ve reduced the volume of your food waste by approx. 300%. This means a significant reduction in the negative impact the harmful gases have on our atmosphere.
The Urban Composter is available in 4 colours, and is available online now. in two different sizes, the City ideal for small homes and apartments and the Original for larger homes and families and useful as an outdoor composter. For further details and to see it in action, check out our YouTube channel to help set up and use your new brilliant composting system. For those of you who might think this is like Bokashi it’s because it is similar BUT with one big difference, this uses a plant based accelerator whereas Bokashi uses animal by-products in the Bokashi Mix so Urban Composter is completely vegan.
A worm farm is another brilliant composting system that uses worms to break down food scraps. Worm farms can be of all sizes, making it ideal for anyone living in an apartment or unit as they can be easily stored inside, or on a balcony. Worms like to be kept around room temperature, so they're the perfect indoor pet that just so happens to like eating your food scraps (kinda like our Rosie, but not everyone can own a pig... ).
Worm farms can break down nearly all kinds of fruit and vegetable scraps and turn them into a liquid fertiliser, aka worm tea, that again, your plants will lap up! It is important to note that worm farms require a good mix of carbon and nitrogen. A balance of 50/50 is ideal. Carbon materials include paper, cardboard, dry leaves, newspaper etc. and the nitrogen will come from most of your food scraps. There are many tutorials online detailing how to go about sourcing and making your own worm farm along with the types of foods you can and cannot feed them.
What to feed your worm farm
Image: Worm food/City of Sydney
Council Collections, Rebates and Workshops
Many Councils around Australia are making huge efforts in supporting and encouraging the reduction of food waste. Some offer a ‘kitchen to compost' service, which allows for food scraps to be placed into a garden bin, as well as regular free workshops promoting home composting. These educational seminars will not only get you well on your way in reducing your waste, they’re also great at connecting you with like minded neighbours who will provide that extra bit of support and encouragement in your steps towards a more sustainable home. What’s more, many councils now offer discounts or rebates with purchases of some compost bins or worm farms - just visit your local councils webpage for more details to start turning your organic waste into healthy, delicious soil! If you want something to collect your scraps in the BioBags Max Air Bin is ideal.
No matter where you live, finished compost is usually in short supply. If you have some spare compost, be sure to share it with neighbours/friends or head down to your local community garden to help nourish their plants alongside your good deeds bank. If you’re a little stuck as to where your closest community garden is, check out ShareWaste - an Aussie founded website connecting you with nearby neighbours who are in need of your compost. ShareWaste not only helps to close the food loop, it connects users with like-minded individuals, which naturally encourages the exchanging of skills and resources.
The digital map details homes or sites with compost systems; users with chickens or animals after some nourishing feed; along with community gardens that are all eager to accept your compost scraps. The site is very user friendly and clearly marks your local map with icons indicating the various stations. When you select an icon, you are given more information about that site such as the user and what scraps they accept. To ensure user privacy, the exact address of the host is hidden, so users must message hosts through the site to arrange meeting times and drop-offs. The other extra feature on the site which we’ve loved exploring, is that you can check out other waste management systems across the globe, ranging from New York to Lisbon to Cape Town. Seeing it on a global scale is both exciting and inspiring to see others around the world working together to reduce our human environmental footprint.