Guide to Reducing Food Waste and Composting at Home

Guide to Reducing Food Waste and Composting at Home

The Food Waste Problem: 

The Shocking Numbers: Every year, Australians discard 7.3 million tonnes of food, which if visualised, would fill more than 13,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This staggering figure includes approximately 34% originating directly from our homes. Given this data, it becomes clear that individual and community actions can significantly affect this pressing environmental challenge.

Why is Reducing Food Waste Important? Won’t it Break Down in Landfill Anyway? 

The Environmental and Economic Reasons to Reduce Food Waste

Landfill Problems: Whilst food waste will readily break down in landfills and will do so much faster than other materials such as plastic, the conditions within the landfill cause it to release large amounts of greenhouse gases. As your food waste is buried by garbage, no oxygen can access the food and this drives the production of methane, a greenhouse gas that causes four times as much warming as carbon dioxide. The emissions are so high that if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases! (source). Reducing food waste not only helps in cutting down methane emissions but also conserves energy and resources consumed by food production, packaging, and transportation.

Economic Impact: Efficiently managing food reduces economic losses and can significantly lower household expenses. Nations spend enormous sums managing waste, which can be reduced through effective household management of food resources.

The Solution: Start Your Own Compost!

Composting is a great alternative to the disposal of food waste in landfills. Composts, unlike landfills, contain oxygen which prevents the formation of methane during decomposition. Carbon dioxide is produced by degrading food waste in a compost instead of methane, this means that by simply composting your food waste, you reduce associated emissions by 75%. Not only do you reduce your emissions you also gain a rich fertiliser to feed your garden!

Steps for a Successful Compost

Choose What’s Right for You

The best compost will always be the one that suits your needs best. Some considerations when selecting your compost bin include:

  • Size: how much food waste does your household produce and how much space do you have to store it?
  • Compost Bin vs Worm Farm: Both will break down your food waste and convert it into fertiliser for your garden, but the main difference is that compost relies on micro-organisms to break down food, whereas worms do the work in a worm farm.
  • Make a Conscious Choice: Not all worm farms and composters have the same impact on the environment. One of our stockists, Tumbleweed, has gone the extra mile and constructed their composts and worm farms from 100% recycled plastic!

Check out our range here

Care for your Compost

  1. Provide diverse waste: You can fill your compost or worm farm with anything from vegetable peels and fruit scraps to tea bags, garden waste, and even pet hair.
  2. Keep it aerated: Worm farms are more independently aerated due to the movement of worms throughout the waste but when it comes to compost, weekly aeration is key. Aeration can be achieved with a specialised aeration tool, or by purchasing a tumbling compost bin.
  3. Check on the moisture levels: All living things need water just be sure not to let your compost get too wet or too dry.

Advanced Composting Techniques

Hot and Cold Composting: Understanding the difference between hot and cold composting can help you manage your compost more effectively. Hot composting is faster, reaching high temperatures that kill most weed seeds and pathogens, whereas cold composting takes longer but requires less maintenance.

Layering Your Compost: To ensure efficient decomposition, balance green materials like food scraps and grass clippings with brown materials like dried leaves and twigs. This ratio helps maintain the necessary carbon-to-nitrogen balance and provides the best environment for microbes.

Enhancing Your Compost Quality

Tools for Better Composting: Investing in the right tools can make composting easier and more effective. Aerators, compost thermometers, and moisture metres can help maintain the ideal composting environment.

Compost Boosters: There are products available that can accelerate the composting process and improve the nutrient content of your compost. These additives are especially useful in colder months when microbial activity slows down.

Community Involvement and Education

Educational Workshops: Participate in or organise local workshops on composting and waste reduction. These can provide valuable hands-on experience and foster community spirit around sustainable practices.

Sharing Resources: Consider sharing excess compost with neighbours or local community gardens. This not only helps enrich local soils but also builds community connections and promotes a culture of sustainability.

If you need help starting your compost or choosing the right system, our experts at Mitre 10 are here to help. Visit us at your local Mitre 10 store or explore our online resources for more information on our sustainable products and services.