At least 30% of the contents of the average household bin could be composted at home.
Composting is the break down of organic material in the presence of oxygen. The process involves hundreds of micro-organisms and creatures like earthworms feeding on the material until it becomes a rich, earthy substance.
- It is a great way of improving your soil fertility for free
- Landfilling of organic waste produces methane (a greenhouse gas) while composting does not
- It is a 'closed-loop' recycling system - you produce the waste, you compost it, you use the product
- Compost is a good alternative to buying peat-based composts, which result in peat bog habitat loss
It's easy to compost at home
What you can home compost
- fruit and veg peelings,
- tea bags and coffee grounds,
- old flowers,
- grass cuttings.
- cardboard egg boxes
- newspaper or shredded paper
- bedding from vegetarian pets (straw, hay, newspaper)
- garden prunnings and twigs
- old natural fibre clothing e.g. wool or cotton (but if it is in good condition, donate it to charity!)
- Cooked food
- Cat and Dog waste
- Coal ash
Solving composting problems
For composting to work properly, your bin needs both moisture and air. The best way to achieve this is to put in a good mixture of 'greens' which supply the moisture and nitrogen, and 'browns' which aerate the compost and supply carbon.
If you find your compost is wet and sludgy, you may need to add more 'browns' and turn the compost to let air in. If the compost is too dry, you may need to add 'greens' or a little water to the bin.
After a few months, the ingredients you have put in your compost bin should have turned into a dark brown, earthy smelling material at the bottom of the bin, which can be dug out leaving the newer material in the bin. Don't worry if your compost is not fine and crumbly. Even if it is lumpy, sticky or stringy, with bits of twig and eggshell still obvious, it is quite usable.
Cambridgeshire has a network of volunteers called master composters, dedicated to:
- raising awareness of the benefits of composting
- encouraging people to home compost
- helping those already composting to do so more effectively
- encouraging the setting up of community composting schemes
If you are interested in speaking to, or becoming a master composter yourself, contact Compost Connexions at Cambridgeshire Community Reuse and Recycling Network (CCORRN) on 01354 742300.