Around half of our household garbage is made up of food and garden waste. Composting instead of putting this waste in your rubbish bin stops it from going to landfill and creates a useful product instead. Food in landfill breaks down in a way that can create greenhouse gases, including methane, which affect air quality and contribute to climate change. Even if you are a renter living in an apartment there are composting options for you.
Start composting your food and garden waste to:
Whether buying a bin or building your own, home composting is easier than you might think. Many types of composting bins are available including:
Composting accelerates the natural process of decomposition to convert organic waste matter into a nutrient-rich soil you can use on your garden. Composting can be the perfect solution for most garden waste and food scraps that cannot be eaten, like eggs shells and banana peels, however it should generally be our last resort when it comes to food. Ideally we avoid food waste in the first place.
Avoid the following items to keep your compost healthy.
Smelly = too wet, not enough air, too acidicSolution = add dry material, turn heap, add lime
Slow = not enough air, no active ingredientsSolution = turn heap, add water, add manure
Maggots = faeces, seafood, meats, fatsSolution = cover with lime or soil
Vermin = breads, grains, too drySolution = remove, cover entry with wire, turn heap, moisten
The type of composting option you choose will affect the time it takes to produce some great compost you can use on plants and gardens, mixed with soil or as mulch. If you don’t have a garden, try mixing compost with soil in pot plants. Some council areas also have community composting sites – check with your local council. Alternatively see if family, friends or neighbours would like some compost for their gardens.
Worm farms are ideal for homes with small yards or no gardens. Designed primarily for food scraps, worm farm composting is a faster process that produces rich castings (vermi-cast) and liquid fertiliser. Your population of worms will double every 2–3 months, they can eat their own body weight in food organics in 24 hours, and can live for 2–3 years.
Vinegar flies or small white worms = too acidicSolution = add dolomite, wood ash, crushed egg shells
Little or no worm wee = poor drainageSolution = harvest or ‘fluff’ the castings
Worms don’t seem to be eating in my new farmSolution = worms will eat their bedding or compost first
Going on holidays – do you need a worm sitter?Solution = 1/3 of tray filled with food and shredded newspaper feeds worms for 4 weeks
Bokashi bins work by way of a fermentation process that turns your kitchen waste into a rich soil conditioner. This composting is airtight (anaerobic), using EM (Effective Micro-Organisms), sometimes called Bokashi 'bran'.
Each year in Victoria, households throw out 250,000 tonnes worth of food – enough wasted food to fill Melbourne's Eureka Tower. Learn to love your food and avoid waste, saving yourself money and protecting our environment.
The best way to deal with food waste is to not create it in the first place through buying only what you need and using up what you’ve got. But even for unavoidable food waste like peels and offcuts, there are a range of ways you can put their nutrients to good use rather than in the rubbish bin:
For a variety of reasons, including lifestyle and ethical choices, some people choose to eat a plant rich diet. To find out more visit the Better Health Channel.