Composting at Home 101

The Story

Reducing my waste was never a huge priority for me.

Tell me.

I mean, I would notice unnecessary packaging, sigh and roll my eyes but I thought that once I correctly allocated everything into the correct council bins that was the end of it. I’d done my job, a fantastic job too I thought because I paid attention to making sure only grass and shrubs went into our ‘green’ bin and all my recyclables were washed, lids removed and into our ‘yellow’ bin and then all the rest like food scraps, unrecyclable packaging, into the ‘red’ landfill bin.

I would feel accomplished as the council garbage collectors took it away never to be seen again. With the disappearance of the garbage truck so too did it disappear from my mind.

What happened next.

I watched the ABC’s ‘War on Waste’ documentary series (highly recommend!) and I was floored.

I felt so stupid! Where did I think the rubbish was going? I felt disappointed in myself because of course I knew it went to landfill but I guess I never actively thought about what that meant  (if you want to learn more on this click here).

As the realisation of all the waste my family contributed dawned on me, my husband in the same week (!!) asked the council to upgrade our ‘red’ landfill bin to a bigger size!

‘We need more space’ he said. 😐

The crux of it.

I did some research, went to Bunnings and bought myself a giant tumbling compost bin and haven’t looked back.

Here is what I learnt about composting at home:

  1. Size matters.

Do you have a small space? Maybe a smaller size bucket looking compost bin is what you need.

Have a large backyard and don’t like to get your hands dirty? You can get a barrel type that has easy to open sliding ‘doors’ and a handle for turning (this is the option I went with and I LOVE it).

  1. Location, location, location!

I have a large backyard so it was easy to find a flat spot, in the sun (your compost bin needs heat to aid in the anaerobic process i.e. to break down).

It also helps to have it in a place where you don’t mind any liquid seeping out (although compost liquid is ‘liquid gold’ for your grass and plants, it doesn’t look so great on your new concrete as hubby unhappily pointed out to me).

Your compost does need to be turned about once a week so having it in a location you’re willing to trek to regularly to do this helps. I also keep a bucket in my kitchen to collect all my food scraps, then take it out every couple of days and add to the bin.

If you have a small space or live in an apartment, there are sealed compost bins you can keep inside too. They’re super cute (trust me, try the Bokashi). If you want to learn more about composting in an apartment click here for Seidy’s experience.

  1. Fill it up!

To compost successfully you need to add an even mix of green and brown waste. I kicked my compost journey off with some organic compost and straw from Bunnings to get it started (they have a great how-to video as well).

Brown waste includes things like cardboard, paper, straw and our Rethink compostable mailers (!) (high carbon material). Green waste includes your organic kitchen waste (fruit & veg), ground coffee beans and flowers (high in nitrogen material).

Depending on the type of compost bin you are using you may need to layer the green and brown waste or if it’s a tumbler like mine just chuck it all in and turn!

Some things to steer clear of popping into the compost are; cooked food (attracts rodents), dairy products, meat and fish bones, plastics, metal, glass.

If you’re unsure it’s always worth a quick google search.

  1. You have COMPOST!

When your compost looks and smells like soil it is good to go! Use it on your grass, your plants, go nuts with your nutrient dense soil made from waste that would have otherwise gone to landfill.

You will notice the dramatic decline in council bin waste – I did and I’m never looking back.