Composting is a really important part of the waste hierarchy so what better time to discuss it than International Compost Awareness Week. It was started in Canada in 1995 and aims to raise awareness of the benefits of using compost.
As you know, at Foodprint we’re all about making sure that edible food is eaten. But we also know there are food waste items that do need to be disposed of. This can include things such as banana skins and eggshells, the tops of beetroot or carrots and in hospitality plate waste (remember if you can’t eat everything it’s cool to ask for to take it home). The best place for these items is in the compost.
Why does it matter? Just like when we’re sending edible food to landfill, food scraps will emit methane as they break down and contribute to the climate crisis. In addition, with each crop we grow, we’re taking nutrients out of the soil. By using compost we’re able to replenish the soil with natural nutrients keeping it healthy and rich. Better still, composted materials hold greenhouse gases in the ground keeping them out of the atmosphere.
Commercial vs home compost. It’s likely that you’ve started to hear the term “commercial compost” over the last few years, especially when brands are speaking about their packaging. The key difference is that commercial composting facilities are able to sustain much higher heats (above 55°C), than home compost bins, allowing them to break down items that will just fill up your home compost such as bio-plastics, meat scraps and onion skins.
If you have the space to do so, composting at home is really easy and can come in many forms including your standard compost bin, worm farms (vermiculture) and bokashi bins. Each comes with its own pros and cons so I do recommend doing a bit of research and working out which one will suit your needs best, you might find you need a combination. Our friend Ethically Kate has several different composting systems at her house and she’s documented how they all work in various blog posts so this is a really great place to start. In addition, I usually find Tui an excellent gardening resource.
At home, I’ve got a Hungry Bins worm farm. It sits on the stoop outside the back door so it’s really easily accessible. We collect our waste in an ice cream container on the bench and feed it to the worms about once per day so it’s fresh for the worms. Then every month or so, we empty the castings and spread them on the garden, creating our own circular system.
It’s important to recognise that not everyone can set up their own system at home. If you find yourself in this situation the good news is that there are still some options available to you.
We Compost offer a domestic collection service, this waste is taken to the commercial facility run by Envirofert just south of Auckland. The Compost Collective runs Share Waste, a site where you can do just that, share your waste. You can log in and find a compost that suits your waste and drop it off to the owner. Or, if you have the capacity to take more waste than you produce, you can list your bin and start composting for others. Not only are you doing your bit, but it’s also a great way to connect with like-minded folks in your community.
Happy International Compost Awareness Week, we'd love to know how you're composting!