How to start composting at home

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Did you know, if food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China & the USA)?

When food rots down in landfill it produces methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas even more potent than CO2, and a huge contributor to global warming.

Not only does it reduce your carbon footprint and cut down on food waste, but composting at home is a great way to create nutrient rich soil for your garden.

What can I compost?


  • Fruit and vegetable peels 
  • Eggshells (best crushed)
  • Bread, grains and pasta
  • Coffee grounds and some coffee filters
  • Loose teas and some plastic free tea bags
  • From around the home:
    Fireplace ashes
  • Pet fur
  • Dryer lint
  • Toilet paper rolls 
  • Newspaper & paper scraps (as long as it’s not glossy)

From the garden:

  • Leaves
  • Grass cuttings
  • Weeds that haven’t gone to seed

Dairy or meat products will start to smell and attract pests, so avoid putting them in your compost. The same goes for fats, oils and pet waste. You should also avoid composting any disease or insect ridden plants, as these could contaminate your compost and make it unusable. 

The key to successful composting is striking a balance between “green matter” (like food scraps and grass cuttings) and “brown waste” (like newspaper, twigs and brown leaves). Too much green and it won’t break down, but an oversupply of brown waste will slow down the process. 

A helpful ratio is roughly two-thirds “brown” and one-third “green”. If you have too much of one type, either hold off on adding more until you can balance it out, or ask a friend or neighbour if they have any materials you can add.

Turning your compost regularly with a shovel will help to promote the circulation of oxygen, and reduce smells!

You can compost in a bin or by making a compost heap. It’s important to make sure there is good drainage. Bins retain warmth and moisture which make better compost more quickly, but an open heap will compost eventually. 

It’s important to make sure your compost doesn’t dry out. Adding wet scraps will help, and you can always spray it lightly with water – but remember you’re aiming for damp, not soggy!

The bacteria and fungi that convert waste into compost work best in constant conditions. Position your bin or heap in light shade or shade, somewhere it will not be subjected to extreme temperature and moisture.

A well-maintained compost pile can take anywhere from six months to two years to properly decompose, but there are numerous factors that affect this timeline, such as the time of year. If you want to speed things up, add some already-finished compost to introduce more beneficial bacteria to your mix.

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Finished compost should look and feel like rich, dark earth. If there’s chunks of food waste still visible, or it smells sour, it’s not ready yet.

What can you use compost for?

Compost adds a nutrient boost to your soil. Try spreading it over garden beds to give your plants a pick-me-up, or mix it in before you add plants or seeds.

Houseplants appreciate compost too. Just mix some with your potting soil.

You can also create “compost tea” (but don’t drink it!) by soaking compost in water for a few days, then straining out the solids. The liquid you’re left with can be sprayed onto your plants as a rich fertiliser to help them grow! 

Composting at home might take some trial and error to strike a balance and get it right, but it’s a great way to reduce your environmental impact, save some money and support your garden too!

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