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Composting is like a natural recycling service. You can get rid of a lot of kitchen waste this way; think tea bags, vegetable peel, fruit waste, egg shells, coffee grinds and even kitchen towels and cereal boxes. If you throw this waste in your general waste bin, it will end up in landfill. If you put it on a compost pile, you can use it on your garden or have it collected by the local authority who will use it to beautify local parks and gardens.
Why it makes sense to compost
Food waste that is not composted ends up buried in landfill. There are upwards of 1500 landfill sites in the UK, which produce around ¼ of the total greenhouse gas emissions. Methane, the gas that is produced when food waste decomposes when there is not air, is harmful to the environment. If food waste is composted, the air that gets to the pile changes the way it decomposes, and no methane is produced.
It could save you money too. If councils miss their landfill targets, they are fined by the government, which can result in higher council taxes for you.
How do I compost?
It’s easy to start your own compost pile. Some local authorities provide a food caddy for your kitchen or if not, they are reasonably priced enough to invest in. You can add all your organic waste to the caddy and you won’t have to worry about smells or bacteria. In the winter, it means less trips to your outdoor compost bin too! Invest in a decent bin for your garden and keep topping it up throughout the year, even when it is cold; nature doesn’t take a rest!
Where should I put my compost bin?
Most compost bins are bottomless, as they can then be placed on soil or grass so that worms can wriggle their way in and do their thing. Worms, insects, bacteria and fungi break the materials down into a soil-like substance, which when ready is your homemade compost. A bottomless bin also lets moisture drain away as required. If the bin has a bottom, it can be placed anywhere you wish, although in all cases we recommend close enough for easy access but not right next to any household doors or windows.
What does the bin require?
Not much really. Air is essential, which should be introduced every few weeks simply by gently agitating the contents. Moisture is also required, but this happens naturally when you add fresh grass and kitchen waste. If it seems to be getting dry, you can sprinkle water into the bin and agitate a little more to encourage even distribution. And of course it needs organic matter, so add meat bones, cooked and raw food, dairy products, diseased plants and even pet faeces whenever you need to, then you’ll find that your compost is the envy of the neighbourhood!
Your compost bin needs a combination of wet and dry materials. Food and grass clippings are wet, so add a little shredded newspaper between layers.
Add a thin layer of soil over the top to discourage flies if required.
If it’s the first time you’re using the bin, leave the contents for a year before harvesting. Only use it when there are no signs of what it once was, such as fruit skins and chicken bones.