The average Australian throws out 361 kilograms of food every year, which then gives off greenhouse gases as it rots in landfill.
Composting is not as hard as many people think it is. It’s also fun, great for your garden, great for the environment and it can save you money; whichever way you look at it, it’s a win-win.
Australians throw out about 361 kilograms of food per person per year. That food ends up in our landfills, where it rots anaerobically (without oxygen) and gives off methane, a greenhouse gas over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. When you compost your food scraps at home, the organic matter breaks down aerobically (you guessed it – with oxygen) instead, producing a nutrient rich compost you can use on your garden.
The basic recipe for any successful compost is: organic waste + water + warmth + air. To start with, you’ll need a vessel. You can buy a commercial compost bin, but it’s also fairly easy to make your own out of bricks, timber, corrugated iron or an old bathtub or similar container. You’ll know your compost is ready when it looks and smells like soil.
Water: Whenever your compost starts to look dry, add a little water. Conversely, if it ever becomes wet and smelly, add more dry materials.
Warmth: Compost heat is produced naturally through the microbial breakdown of organic material. Aerating regularly and keeping your compost moist will help it stay within an ideal temperature range.
Organic waste: When you start filling your compost vessel, balance your kitchen scraps with dry materials such as wood ash, dry leaves, shredded newspaper and cardboard.
Air: Some commercial bins come mounted on a frame with a turning handle, which makes aeration easy. If you’ve made your own bin you’ll need to turn your pile intermittently, or let worms do the job for you – the tunnels they leave behind as they move through the pile are great for aeration.
For more information, check out Sustainable Living Tasmania’s ‘Composting’ information sheet.