May Masterclass- Composting 101
International Compost Awareness Week
May 5th marks the start of International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW). International compost what, I hear you saying. To be completely honest, until about 6 months ago, I did not know about this event either. It has been one that has been relatively isolated in its publication and celebration in Australia, at least in SA and I suspect Non- East Coast states.
ICAW harks back to 1995 where it was first held in Canada. It was not until 2006 that it was brought to Australia, by the Centre for Organic Research & Education (CORE) and in 2012, Costa Georgiadis, aka ‘Costa the Composter’, was inducted as the event Ambassador.
The week of the 5th to 12th of May, will be a time of events across Australia to help promote and educate the community on not only how to compost, but also the massive benefits of composting organic waste, rather than sending to landfill, for soil improvement as well as the impact that it has on greenhouse gas emission in the breakdown of the organics in landfill.
Some interesting facts on organic waste going to landfill:
- Approximately 50% of what Australians send to landfill is organic waste and could be composted.
- When organic waste ends up in landfill it is broken down anaerobically (without oxygen) and as a result produces methane, which is 25 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
- The methane from the organic waste in landfill equates to 3% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- All of the organic waste going to landfill is missed the opportunity for soil improvement from composting.
How to compost
We currently have 3 ways we manage our organic waste at home- we have a home compost bin in our backyard; we have 2 clucky composter’s- our chooks who either eat food scraps and then create manure or they peck and scratch over the ground and scraps creating a compost in place which breaks down quickly; and we use our kerbside organic (green bin) collection. We have previously also had a worm farm which was a very quick and effective way to get the organic waste into useable worm castings/ compost.
The options and possibilities for composting really are limitless now, with very compact bench-top compost options for those without a garden, to large scale hot composts in your garden or the use of a commercial compost facility via the local kerbside collection. Just visit your local hardware or garden store and you will be able to get set up with a compost bin or worm farm for your garden. To get a bench-top composter you will probably need to head online or visit a specialty store to get your hands on something like the Urban Composter or Bokashi Bin.
If you are going to use your council kerbside collection you will probably want to get yourself a bench-top caddy and some compostable bags to collect the organic scraps before you pop them into your large bin. You may well have been provided these by your council and can often get them from your local council if you need replacements. In our home, we use a large 30L pedal bin with BioBag liner for our green bin waste as we put a fair bit of dry organic in it. Most of our wet organics go to the chickens or to our backyard compost bin, so much of what is going to the Green Bin is paper and card based that cannot be recycled and it surplus to what out home compost can manage- used tissues, paper towel, paper bags from purchasing food, egg shells and the odd amount of fruit and veg scraps that the chickens or compost bin would not like. We also use it for garden prunings and lawn clippings when we have too much to go in our compost bin. Other things we put in our compost on a regular basis are bamboo toothbrushes with bristles removed, biodegradable kitchen cloths & scrub pads, BioPak cups and other compostable disposables if we get them at events. Some of these will break down in our backyard compost- the BioPack items need to go into commercial composting. The amount of these we get is quite low as we take reusables with us pretty well everywhere now.
So how can you get involved? If you can, I would recommend getting along to a ICAW event, however, there are also a lot of other resources to help you with getting your compost game on.
The events list looks like we do not have any scheduled public events in SA for the week, however, much of the East Coast and Tasmania seem to have events throughout the week, which you can find here if you are keen to find something in your local area.
Otherwise, check out the resources below to get some inspiration for what you might like to do to reduce your organic waste that is headed for landfill.
The ICAW is running a competition for those getting involved this compost week and if you upload and tag an image with #CelebrateICAW or email photos to them, you can win one of 3 Composta units. All the details are on this link.
I would love to hear about how you go getting started or if you have an established system I would really like to hear how it is working for you and photos if you have some.
Resources to help you get started or up your game
Here are some great resources to give you some help with your compost mission
Beginners guide to compost and worms (My Smart Garden)
How to compost food and Garden Waste (Sustainability Victoria)
ShareWaste website to connect you and your organic waste with someone happy to compost your waste
Urban Composter website for information and shop to order them (no paid sponsorship has been provided)
How to set up a worm farm