Throwing away our food and organic waste is
a bit like pass the parcel – it’s now out of our hands
but we’ve just passed this waste on to a landfill to be covered by tonnes of other
waste so these organic materials are forced to
decompose more slowly and without oxygen. And it’s this anaerobic decomposition that
generates odour and greenhouse gases. Knowing what organic waste can be recycled
or reused at home will keep valuable resources out of our landfills.
In the kitchen, our organic list includes food scraps, paper and cardboard, and textiles
In the backyard, it’s grass clippings, garden pruning , and untreated timber
Recycle your paper and cardboard into the recycling bin and you’ve immediately
saved close to fifty percent of your household waste from landfill.
Reuse your food and garden waste – and you you’ve saved another thirty to forty percent.
The first step to reusing your organic waste is deciding what system will suit your lifestyle:
If you have Poultry or livestock, they will eat vegetables, and some fruit
Mulching is suited to active people who can use a mulcher or shredder for prunings
Composting is suited to active people who have a yard that has full sun for most of
the day a rotating compost tumbler will give you faster compost.
Worm Farming is ideal for people with little or no yard, or who only have a balcony.
Bokashi bins are a great system for people who want to dispose of food waste directly
into an enclosed kitchen container. A mulcher or chipper will turn prunings into
a cover for your gardens and pot plants. Other non-organic mulches that can be used
include stones, pebbles, coloured glass pebbles and other recycled materials.
The easiest way to turn most of your food and garden waste into compost is to use a
commercial compost bin, or make up a simple compost system with reusable items.
Placed in a sunny position in the yard with direct access to soil or grass
the compost is built from alternate layers of green and brown organic materials.
Green waste is nitrogen rich and includes fruit and vegetable scraps and green garden
vegetation. You can also add chicken or livestock manure that’s a few days old.
Brown waste is carbon rich and includes tea leaves and coffee grounds, crushed egg shells,
dry leaves and grass, woody twigs, newspaper, egg cartons, shredded paper and straw.
The smaller the pieces, the quicker the organic material will break down.
Follow these layers with enough water to keep the compost as moist as a wrung-out sponge
and aerate your compost weekly with a garden fork or compost turner to speed up decomposition.
Using a pipe in the centre will also assist with this breakdown.
Your compost is ready to use when it’s a dark brown crumbly mix with most of the food
and garden waste decomposed and unrecognisable. An easy way to turn most of your food waste
into compost is to use a commercial worm farm, or make up a simple one with reusable items.
You need a shady, cool place, preferably under a roof or cover and it will need to be
close to your kitchen door. Sort your organic items into what the worms
like to eat which includes most garden waste, fruit and vegetable scraps and chopped
or shredded paper and cardboard – with tea leaves and coffee grounds, crushed egg shells,
cooked rice and small amounts of bread on the menu.
They won’t eat acidic or spicy food… and prefer not to eat from a list that
includes meat, seafood, oil, dairy, uncooked grains and legumes and very salty food or
chook and stable manure. The worms should be fed daily with scraps
cut or blended into small pieces or pulp and watered at least once a week in warmer
weather. Within weeks your worms will reward you with
their worm castings or vermicast and a worm liquid fertiliser that can be
diluted and used in the garden and on lawns. Bokashi bins are an excellent composting system
for people who need a handy sealed kitchen container.
The bin has a mesh base over a liquid storage area and includes a tap to access the liquid.
Food scraps are placed into the bin mashed to compact the food and remove the
air… and then sprinkled with a fermented grain.
As the food waste breaks down and ferments, a highly concentrated liquid will drain into
the storage area at the base. The fermented Bokashi liquid is diluted with
water and used for pot plants and in the garden or poured down your drains and toilet to
keep them clean, prevent algae and control odour.
The bokashi compost is acidic when first decanted, so don’t place this close to plant roots
in the first couple of weeks though it will neutralise in contact with soil and other
compost over a week or two. If using the compost for pot plants, prepare
it first by mixing it with an equal amount of potting mix or other compost before covering
and setting aside for a month. The result will be a water-retaining soil
rich in nutrients and microbes. Disposing of food scraps and garden clippings
into a Council general waste bin is a waste of these valuable resources.
By recycling this organic waste to feed the chickens or a composting system, you’re
returning valuable nutrients back to your garden soil or pot plants
improving soil structure and water retention and saving the purchase cost of commercial
soil and mulch. For more information on reducing waste and
being more sustainable at home, including fact sheets on worm farming and composting
hints and tips go to moretonbay.qld.gov.au/waste