Composting in a small garden

wpid-imag1317.jpgOne of the WWF tips was “Compost your kitchen waste and garden cuttings” as part of the 7 day challenge to reduce the ecological footprint. Its also one of my Earth Day pledges. Their reason is that around a third of our kitchen and garden waste can be composted. This waste turns to methane, a greenhouse gas that has a bigger global warming potential than CO2, if it is disposed of in a landfill. Generally 60 per cent of household waste can be composted.

Composting has a lower environmental impact because when the organic matter breaks down in the presence of oxygen it produces CO2 rather than methane as it would in Landfill. If done at home in the garden it also has no transport emissions and it can be used in the garden in place of fertilisers and soil improvers. It also reduces the amount of waste going to landfill.

We don’t have a green waste collection in our borough so the majority of our veg waste has been going in the general waste.  As me and my husband are vegetarian that makes up the majority of our food waste. In the last year I have been intermittently taking bagfuls of peelings round to the community garden that I am involved with as they have large compost bins.

We do have a small garden but most of it is paved. There are two small beds that were planted up but recently thanks to the neighbourhood cats there is some space in one of them. We did some gardening this weekend, pruning some bushes and sweeping up leaves and its amazing how much compostable material it makes. So I’m going to use that space for a compost bin. I’ve started a temporary one in an old bin we had out front and it seems to be starting to rot. Can’t wait till I can use it for my plants.

The friends of the earth fact sheet on the EU Landfill Directive and Waste Strategy outlines the regulations for diverting biodegradable waste from landfill. “The EU Landfill Directive sets targets for the reduction of biodegradable waste sent to landfill as 75% of  the 1995 level by 2010, 50% of the 1995 level by 2013 and 35% of the 1995 level by 2020. This means that by 2020 the UK only needs to divert 40 per cent of household waste from landfill to meet the legal requirements of the Landfill Directive, as long as all of this is biodegradable waste. However, it will also need to divert other waste from landfill to meet targets within the Packaging Directive and also a new Directive on electronic waste. In practice this means around 55 per cent of waste will need to be diverted from landfill by 2020″.

They say that home composting is at the top of the waste hierarchy for the reasons outlined above, reduced transport and use at source, along with replacing artificial fertilisers and peat in the garden. They recommend that councils promote at home composting before introducing a home food waste collection. To help meet this directive some UK boroughs have subsidised compost bins. Type your postcode into the getcomposting site to see if there are any available. There are also free or cheap ones advertised on Ebay, gumtree and recycle sites which would be a good place to start.

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