Thursday, August 15, 2013

On my mind: Reduce your household waste

I've decided since I'm going to take the blog back to it's roots that I'll do some posts from my heart and from my mind! Aptly titled, On my Heart or On my Mind! Here's the first - something we've been prioritising here this year and particularly in the last few months! Composting.

The first year we were married we lived in a second story unit. It was part of a complex of just over 20 units and there were no recycling bins. I phoned council and strata management several times about the issue and was met with the same (silly) response - there is no room for a truck to enter the premises to collect it and it's not safe for the rubbish truck to stop for bins on the street. WHAT! I wasn't happy but I was just shy of 21 and didn't push it any further. I did however take our recycling to my parents house each week and place it in their recycling bin ready for collection.

Our unit did however have a giant skip bin that was filled to the brim each fortnight awaiting the truck (yes a truck came in and picked it up!!) to collect it and send all that precious recyclables off to landfill! 20 households people! 20!

Since then we've owned two homes both of which have access to their respective council's collection services for recycling. Our previous council also collected green waste on a fortnightly basis which was great for lawn clippings, tree branches etc. Here our green waste goes to our own compost heap or larger items head to our neighbours property to break down in their giant pile!

So here's what's on my mind. Compost. How'd you like to reduce your weekly household waste by up to 40% - yep, it's estimated Aussie's bins contain 40% food waste each week!

When we started composting our food scraps with big intentions a few months back rather than in our on again off again fashion, our household waste reduced so significantly that a few weeks in a row our bin only contained one bag of rubbish when it was collection day! (We use cloth nappies if you're wondering...!)

Inside, we now have a compost tub (it's a big Tupperware jug) on the bench near the sink. It's easy to grab and put next to the chopping board as I prepare meals and snacks and throw all of our fruit and veggie scraps in! No lid means that it can sit there a few days in a row and it doesn't smell! (I might use a lid once the pesky fruit flies are about?!)

Outside we have an old wheelie bin with the base cut off. It rests on the ground and we simply throw our compost in the top. Every week or so I give it a big stir with the pitch fork to oxygenate it and if we want to incorporate some compost into our garden beds we simply grab it from underneath. My excitement peaked last week when I discovered we have myriads of worms living in the heap! Woot!

I really want to build up a wooden compost heap, perhaps a three bin system like my dad built at his place... all in good time. At this stage I'm just pleased that our food waste is not going to landfill.

Actaully best of all lately we've been giving ALL of our food scraps to our neighbours chooks (around 50 of them!) and they love it! As do Miss Daisy and Li'l Peppa! (More arguments to Daddy that we need chooks too!) So not just fruit and veggie scraps but also leftover porridge from breakfast, crusts and sandwich scraps, leftover rice that isn't eaten and basically anything and everything else! They love it!

Here's my 10 composting tips (for beginners!)

1. Start a compost heap. Even if you aren't going to use it on your garden or anywhere else. Designate a compost heap and use it. You'll see your household waste reduce significantly AND you're helping to keep so much unnecessary waste out of landfill!

2. Don't put food in the bin! Once you've started make yourself feel guilty if food goes in the bin! It very rarely happens here now. Everything goes to the compost heap or the chooks!

3. Give it some greens to increase nitrogen. We throw in all our weeds and any clippings that will fit! :) (This is why I need a bigger heap!) 

4. Tea bags are in! If you're a tea drinker then here's another thing that will no longer make it's way into your household bin. Tea bags are great for compost heaps, as are coffee grounds!

5. Hair me out on this one. Have you got a pet or do you find you molt when you comb your hair (I do!) Hair can go in your compost heap and is a wonderful treat for your worm farm if you have one! My dad taught us this when we lived at home... our worms weren't in short supply of hair with four long haired girls in the house!)

6. On the topic of hair... if you have a vacuum with a cyclonic catcher then you can empty your vacuum dust into your compost too! (Mine's usually full of hair too!)

7. Keep meats and dairy out of your compost heap, we reserve these kind of scraps for the chooks.

8. Compost heaps need air so keep turning it every week or so to incorporate air.

9. Make it easy. Keep a container in your kitchen to put scraps straight in - this makes it easy to take outside every couple of days

10. Start today! It's not really a tip - but it's good advice I promise! We've dappled in composting on and off over the years. But my best advice is set yourself up an easy system to ensure success! Keep it simple and you will continue in this great habit!