When I did my bin audit, a few friends mentioned how little waste our house produced. I’ll tell you my secret… compost! Approximately 30% of household waste that makes it to the tip is compostable and another 15% is garden waste. Not that I’m assuming you can’t add, but that’s almost HALF! You can minimise your waste by 30-45% just by composting. That’s so exciting!
I love composting because it’s so friggin easy… even for someone like me who’s proverbial green thumb is actually brown. The only thing I’m good at growing is dirt. Example: years ago, I asked my aunt how to make my compost break down quicker. She suggested I put lime over it. So I went and bought a couple of limes and squeezed them over my compost. Nothing much changed… turns out she meant lime the mineral not the fruit. That’s the extent of my gardening knowledge.
Clockwise we have; violas, a succulent stem, what I think used to be thyme and now possibly a weed or parsley and mint. The mint is actually growing, it’s just a bit scraggly and certainly not lush.
I say composting is easy because I only started when I moved from a regional town to Melbourne, when I no longer had a backyard. I’ve tried most types of composting in a lot of different spaces.
My first was a worm farm, but being me, these died soon after… maybe it was the lime juice? It was nestled away down the side of our share house. About every 6 months, when it was full I scattered the humus (what all the food and stuff turns into) onto our tiny court-yard garden. I took this “worm” farm with me to the next 2 properties. In one apartment, it lived on the balcony and in the next apartment it lived down the side of the house again. In the last apartment we had zero garden so I scattered it over our pot plants. The point here is composting can be flexible.
My first compost bin.
Fast forward 10 years, we entered the property market and purchased an apartment of our own. Of all the places we lived, this was the first to receive complaints about my compost bin (apparently they smell too much). I needed a new plan of attack as the building manager was having none of it. I convinced a good friend (who happened to have a back yard) that it would be great if I gifted them a compost bin and in return I could bring my compost over… win win! For about 18 months, every couple of weeks I carted our compost over. Then last year, as I was dreaming up this audit, I thought stuff this… I’m going to compost at my own house! Now an upstanding citizen would probably get body corporate approval, but I prefer to carry on like a ninja, making our compost deposits after the sun sets. I picked the furthermost corner of the garden patch so that any offensive “smells” are away from the apartments and to minimise risk of being caught, oh the thrill of it all. I know what you’re thinking.. such a rebel! I can report that so far (about 4 months) I don’t think anyone else in the building has even noticed it let alone smelt it.
My secret compost stash. Look at that humus goodness. That’s about 4 months worth for 2.5 people.
A couple of years ago, husband bought me a bench top compost bin for my birthday… I joked this was a crappy present, but in actual fact I loved it. Just like I love opening up my compost bin every week to see what were food scraps now beautiful black humus! But there’s alway more to be done.
Where we did well:
- Composting food scraps
- Freezing or eating leftovers
- Trying to purchase the right amount of fresh produce – enough to last the week, not too much that it spoils
Room for improvement:
- Not composting meat, dairy or cooked food
- Not putting in vacuum/sweeping dust
- Occasionally putting in whole pieces of fruit that have spoiled
- Eating as much of the produce as possible
I have been putting cooked food, dairy and meat/bones in the rubbish because I’m afraid it will attract rats, mice and possums. To overcome this, I am going to trial using a Bokashi bucket.
Basically you can compost any cooked or raw food of any description in a Bokashi bucket. This works because you keep your waste in an air tight bucket and add an accelerator made up of microbes (I am going to use the Maze Bokashi compost additive and Maze liquid additive). Then all I need to do is add food and layer it with the accelerators until the bin is full. When It’s full I’ll just wait a couple of weeks and let it ferment its way to humus. Once it’s reached this point I can add it to the rest of my compost. I have 2 bins so that while I’m waiting I can keep composting.
Oh and I forgot to mention it creates this magical compost juice that is supposed to be amazing for the garden (maybe it will minimise my plant death toll), but it does smell like blue cheese wrapped in a teenage boys footy socks that were sprayed with onion perfume. Bokashi juice aside, composting is easy, awesome and a great way to reduce waste. I strongly recommend giving it a go!
Using More Produce
To minimise overall waste leaving the kitchen I will try to use more of the actual produce. This will include leaving skins on, using stalks and making stock (google vegetable broth + kitchen scraps).
Cooking up a storm using the broccoli stalk.
And lastly I will try to be more mindful of food spoilage:
This means ensuring we purchase the correct amount for our family and refrigerating fruit that spoils in the heat.
Cheerio for now,