The what, why and how of composting
Why should I be composting?
If you’re interested in reducing your waste, carbon footprint, and being more sustainable, one of the most effective ways you can do this is by composting your organic waste. When compostable materials are thrown away in your usual curbside bin, they go to landfill.
But wait, why is it bad for compost to go to landfill?
A common misconception people have is when you put your compostable material into landfill, it breaks down just like compost. Unfortunately this isn't the case! Composting needs oxygen to work and landfill is an anaerobic system (no oxygen). So when your food scraps start breaking down in landfill they produce methane - a major culprit in global warming!
So what is methane and why is it so bad?
Methane is one of the green house gasses contributing to global warming. Although the one we hear about more often is carbon dioxide, methane is actually 20-30 times more potent in excelling global warming than carbon dioxide!
So, what should I do with my compost?
If you have a garden, the cheapest and simplest way is to literally start a heap in your garden of organic waste! If this sounds a little messy, or you are worried about small 4 legged animals with tails...check out your local hardware store to find a compost bin that suits your needs.
What if I live in an apartment?
Don't worry, we have you covered! Community composts are a great way to get rid of your food scraps, just have a google to see where your local community garden is and check if they have a compost. If you live in NZ, you can also check out sharewaste.org.nz where you can drop off your compost to neighbours who are happy to help you out and pop it into their garden bin! If you can only drop your compost off occasionally, a great tip is to store it in a container in the freezer, no smell and no flies!
Perfect! So what can and what can't I compost?
You can compost anything that was once living, e.g. paper, food scraps, coffee, eggshells, even meat (although most people don’t as it can become smelly and attract pests) The only ‘rule’ with compost is that you should have an equal ratio of green material and brown material. Green material means things like vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds. These are important as they contribute nitrogen. Then brown material, things like dry leaves, cardboard and paper, contribute carbon. Nitrogen and carbon (plus water and oxygen) will leave you with beautiful, nutritious compost in no time! Perfect to add to your garden for healthy, fast growing plants!
Here are some resources if
you would like to learn more:
Composting is great as it reduces landfill and greenhouse
gases that contribute to global warming, as well as being
amazing food for your garden!
Give it a go and let us
know how you get on!
Words by Ayla Irving Lamb