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How to Compost for Zero Waste Living

Take out the plastic, and food is just about all that’s left in your rubbish bin. In zero waste living, your glass, paper, cardboard and metal are all commonly recycled so your scraps is all that remains.

Food waste makes up almost 40% of the typical domestic rubbish bin, including spoiled fruit and vegetables, the peels, the skins, the outer leaves, the cores, the husks, the seeds. The ‘inedible’ bits, basically.

Composting is one of the most effective ways that you can help the environment. By sending food waste to landfill, Australians are generating methane equal to around 6.8 million tonnes of carbonic acid gas. Methane is 30x more powerful than your average Co2.

Here, we show you options for composting in gardens or smaller spaces as well as environmentally-friendly ways to deal with your food scraps.

Types of Compost Bins

If you’ve got a backyard, you’ve got it pretty easy. You’ll be able to have a tumbler bin, an interior bin that stands alone, a worm bin or you have the option of trench composting.

Trench composting involves digging a minimum of a foot deep into the ground to throw your scraps in and then you bury them. Remember with this option, it’s important to make sure that you’re digging pretty deep so that animals aren’t able to dig them up.

If you reside in an apartment or inner city, there are other ways to compost, like bokashi bins and electronic composters that can be kept in your kitchen cupboard or on your counter tops.

Worm farms (also called vermicomposting) are also a good option if you only have indoor options available to you as they thrive in stable temperatures. They use composting worms, which are fast growing and fast eating, instead of earthworms that you just might collect from your garden.

Options for City and Suburban Living

A standard compost bin requires a patch of soil or dirt about 1m² so they are easy to accommodate in tiny gardens or small areas outside of your house.

Even if you don’t have your own garden, look for shared areas where might be able to put one. It might even be possible for you to borrow or share an compost bin with friendly neighbours in your local area. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and it’s an opportunity to build good relations with others in your area.

If you live in an apartment but have a balcony, a tumbler compost bin would work well as they don’t require being dug into the ground.

If you don’t have space to compost bin in your home, community gardens are an excellent place to take your waste for composting. Many accept food scraps without the necessity for you to be a member (although being a member may be a good way to support a neighborhood organisation doing good within the community). Research where the closest community garden is to your home, and get in touch to find out how you can use their bins.

Many areas are now collecting scraps within the organic waste / garden bins so it’s also worth checking with your local council about what they’re currently accepting.

Other ways to cope with veggie scraps

Food scraps can be used in a number of easy and useful ways; vegetable stalks and skins are great in homemade stock, apple cores and skins fermented down into apple cider vinegar, roots sprouted in water and planted in your veggie garden, stale bread makes the perfect croutons when roast or fried for french toast, soft fruit and veg can be used in baking, banana skins can even be used for cleaning! What you can’t, or don’t want to reuse, can then be thrown into the compost bin.

How do you deal with your food waste? Do you compost, or have a worm farm, or a bokashi? Which one is your favourite? 

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