One of the personal goals we set during the Energy Diet Challenge was to start a home compost. Well, with turning off the lights, measuring our water use and building solar ovens, we just never got to it.
Find the right spot
Fast forward a couple of months and we have finally got this project off the ground. Considering it’s the end of winter and we have snow in our yard, we had to find an indoor composting method that could eventually be transferred outdoors in the warmer months. A few Google searches led us to choose a “”bucket in bucket”” plan that fits our needs and space in our garage, where the pile is temporarily being housed until it can be move outside. This method is particularly well suited to apartment/condo dwellers — anyone with limited yard space.
For our composter, we are repurposing a war-ravaged garbage can and an old 5-gallon bucket. Essentially, the smaller bucket sits on a couple of bricks inside the garbage can. We (well Randy) drilled holes on all sides and the bottom of the small bucket to allow air circulation. The garbage can provides insulation from the cold air as well as catches any material that works through the holes in the bucket. Lids are put on both containers to contain heat and any odours. The big garbage can will make it easy to pick-up the entire “”pile”” and move it outside in the spring.
We layer our kitchen scraps, peels (except citrus), egg shells, tea bags, coffee grinds and filters, lint, hair (yuck!), along with some soil and wood shavings or shredded newspaper. Every so often, I give it all a stir with my garden claw. No changes are visible in such a short period of time, but the pile is generating heat and it loses volume between each addition of new materials. There are no bad odours and things seem to be breaking down.
The biggest change is the amount of garbage we put out for collection each week. Our community doesn’t offer organic waste pick-up, and while I sneak lettuce leaves and corn husks into our grass clipping collection during the summer, tomato slices and tea bags would probably be too obvious and get us blacklisted. We are hoping our composting initiative eliminates almost one third of our residential waste sent to landfill and that eventually, we will be rewarded with nutrient rich humus to be added to our garden and flower beds.
Some interesting facts about household waste:
• Almost half of residential waste is organic or food waste which is generally compostable and could be diverted from landfills or incinerators.*
• Rotting organic material in landfills is the biggest culprit in producing methane gas, which is the largest contributor to global warming. When this decay comes into contact with liquid, it trickles down and can contaminate groundwater sources.*
The percentage of Canadian households that compost regularly or actively divert organic waste from regular garbage collection has increased almost 30% in the last 10 years. We are on the right track and with more citizen involvement, communities will have to provide environmentally sensitive options for handling residential waste. Until then, you can always start a compost pile for your home!
* EnviroStats – Statistics Canada