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It’s easy, free and natural, it entertains the kids and delights the garden-lovers, helps the wiggly worms to thrive, the flowers to blossom, and the nutritious veg to grow.
of household waste is organic and could be turned into rich compost on the spot
It’s funny to think of landfill sites as a precious resource, but they’re filling up so quickly that we could soon struggle to find space to bury our ever-growing mountains of waste.
When sent to landfill, kitchen and garden waste (organic waste) rots anaerobically, giving off smelly methane gasses. In fact, landfilled organic waste creates 40% of the UK’s methane emissions2, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2.
When composted, this waste decomposes with oxygen, giving us a far less smelly, more useful output. If everyone in the UK were to compost their food waste, we could save the equivalent of 2 million tonnes of CO2 every year.
Commercially produced compost often contains peat taken from peat bogs, which are rich carbon sinks. Through digging up these natural British habitats, yet more carbon dioxide is thrown up into our atmosphere – the same amount as emitted by about 100,000 homes3.
This bit’s obvious: compost helps things to grow. It improves the health of your plants while reducing the need for water and artificial fertilisers. Compost heaps themselves are a great way to attract wildlife, worms, slugs, hedgehogs, birds, lizards, the lot!4
The peat bogs from which shop-bought compost comes are hugely rich and diverse habitats, housing many rare and protected plants and animals. They’re being destroyed by the recent craze for peat-based fertilisers, endangering these species yet further.
With landfill taxes on the up and council budgets on the down, composting your organic waste is a great way to help your council save money for the things that really need it.
A bag of compost also costs you about £7 a pop, so by making your own you could treat yourself to a few extra bulbs next winter.
Composting can be done in a number of ways, the best option depends on how much space you have.
- Traditional compost heaps are the winner if you have a garden; check out RecycleNow’s advice on home composting.
- Wormeries are small, smell-free, and create rich compost in a matter of months. You can keep them inside or out – don’t worry, the worms can’t escape! Many councils offer discounts on wormeries and compost bins, contact yours to see if they have a scheme.
- Bokashi is a composting method, using microorganisms to break down your food waste (including meat and fish) at a supercharged speed. Best of all, it is totally hygienic and can be kept safely in your kitchen.
- Council collections of compost are becoming more and more common, use the RecycleNow site to check what services your local council offers.
The important thing is to do it right! It’s not hard, but if you don’t tend to your compost heap correctly and let it rot away it could be causing more harm than good.
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2 - recycledevon.org
3 - Guardian.co.uk
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