Green-fingered residents across Cornwall are being encouraged to cut down on waste by composting as International Compost Awareness Week is celebrated.
Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for gardens but research shows that almost half of food waste in rubbish bins could have been composted, even in households already composting.
Composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to the CO2 a kettle produces annually, or a washing machine produces in three months.
Now Cornwall Council is giving residents tips on how to start or revive a compost bin and reduce their overall waste.
Esther O’Bearagh, Waste and Recycling Community Engagement Team Leader, said: “Home composting is one of the most positive things that you can do to help the environment and we are sure that there are gardens that have poor unloved compost bins, just crying out to be used.
“Some people have tried to compost and it wasn’t successful, perhaps it just didn’t seem worthwhile, or something may have happened to put you off, or you just found this odd-looking Dalek at the end of the garden when you moved in.”
Here are some steps to start or revive a compost bin:
1. Check to see if there is compost in the bottom of the bin. The easiest way to harvest the compost is to lift the whole bin up. Any existing compost can be used in flower beds or a vegetable patch. To use as planting compost sieve it first.
2. If there is dry un-composted material in the bin put it to one side.
3. To stop vermin getting into the bin, buy wire mesh from a DIY store to go under the bin and up the sides to cover the hatch.
4. Position the compost bin in a sunny spot on bare soil which allows beneficial microbes and insects to gain access to the rotting material and also creates better aeration and drainage, both important to successful composting.
5. The best compost is made from a mixture of brown, carbon-rich waste – like autumn leaves, cardboard, egg boxes, egg shell, prunings, small branches and pet bedding – and green, nitrogen-rich waste, such as grass cuttings, weeds and vegetable peeling.
Sue James, Cornwall’s portfolio holder for the environment and public protection, said: “Composting is a cheap and easy way we can all do our bit to cut down on waste and help the environment and it has huge benefits for your garden.
“It improves the condition of your soil, helps keep plant disease at bay and balances out acidic soil which we have a lot of in Cornwall. Your plants and flowers will love you for it.”
Information on buying a subsidised composting bin is available on the Cornwall Council website. Alternatively, garden waste can be taken to the Council’s household waste and recycling centres for free or collected through the garden waste subscription scheme.
For a full list of what to compost and how, see the Recycle Now website.