Get ready for a bunch of statistics that will make your jaw drop. Every year, 1/3 of the world’s food is just food waste. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) key facts show that roughly 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted a year! That is a lot. What’s even worse is that most of this waste (45% to be exact) is fruit and vegetables. But it’s not all gloom and doom, luckily fruit and veggies can be composted! And in honor of World Food Day we’ll teach you about how you can start reducing your food waste sustainably.
What is Composting?
Well firstly, we should talk about what compost is. Compost is like a growing plant’s superfood. This dark colored soil is full of nutrients that plants love.
Composting is a natural process. The first part of it involves organic materials like food scraps, or maybe even leaves dropped in your garden. The second part involves two other main ingredients: oxygen and water. Yup, you read that right, it’s that easy. But why do people not compost all their food waste? Well, it’s probably because they think it’s too complicated, or they don’t know where to start. This couldn’t be further from the truth. And this guide is here to the rescue!
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- Brown materials to produce carbon like: dead leaves, branches, twigs, sawdust, wood chips, coffee filters, cotton and wool rags, shredded paper, cardboard
- Green materials to produce nitrogen: grass clippings, leaves, fruit and vegetable scraps, hair, lint, tea, egg shells and coffee grounds
Yup, that’s it, that’s the list. Of course, there’s a technique to it.
Follow These Steps!
Select a spot:
- Pick a shady spot, that’s close to a water source. You can purchase a compost bin, or make one with chicken wiring or just isolate a space for the compost pile. The area should be 1m wide, 1m tall and the bin should be at least 1 m deep
Add brown and green materials in layers
- Alternate the brown and green materials when layering them. The ratio should ideally be 3 parts brown materials to 1 part green materials. Make sure any larger pieces are shredded!
Keep the compost moist (but not wet!)
- This helps the organic matter break down but don’t add too much. It should look like a sponge that’s been wrung out from water, so moist but not soaking wet. If it’s too dry it’ll take forever to break down and if it’s too wet it’ll start to smell. You’re aiming for it to smell sweet or vinegary but not rotten.
Air it out occasionally
- This speeds up the composting process and keeps things from smelling.
As materials break down, you’ll see some steam
- This is normal, it means things are warming up and breaking down!
And you’re done!
- You’ll know when it’s ready when it’s dark and when there are no food remains. The compost on average takes 6 months to a year to really ripen. But you can always speed up the process by turning the soil more often and adding water regularly. Once it’s ready you can add it to your plants!
But there’s a catch, you can’t throw everything in your compost pile (although we wish that were possible!)
What Not to Compost
Coal ash, plastic, glass, metals, diseased plants, pet waste, bones, meats, fish, fats, oils, and dairy.
But if you really want to compost bones and dairy, then you should try the Bokashi method.
Composting Bones and Dairy
It’s a little different to compost bones and dairy. There’s a Japanese method called Bokashi that gets the job done. Luckily, LactoBokashi in Egypt provides all the essentials needed to get you composting all your food waste including bones and dairy. All it needs is a magic powder called Bokashi that they provide and they even offer the composting bin to get you started! The great thing about the Bokashi method is that it can be done indoors even if you don’t have a garden.
Hopefully, this crash course is enough to get you started on getting rid of that food waste, happy composting!