Tips for composting from a city dweller
The saying goes that from little things, big things grow. That’s certainly a motto we can adopt in our attempts to live greener lifestyles.
Each day we take small steps to ensure our own environmental footprints don’t leave a mark on the planet. Many of us are seasoned recyclers, and every morning I see more and more commuters enjoying their coffee in KeepCups.
But in what other ways can we up the ante?
As a recent convert, let me make a case for composting.
Although I love living near to some of the city’s best cafes, restaurants and bars, it can be hard to exercise my green thumb given the area is so densely populated and a backyard is a luxury reserved only for millionaires.
Aside from growing fresh herbs and chillies on my sunlit balcony, I never thought composting could become part of my green routine until one day, a friendly neighbour posted in the Facebook group of our apartment building.
She put a call out to see if any of us would be interested in joining the complex’s Compost Collective.
Truth be told, I was a little embarrassed that I’d never noticed the incredible set up by our lush garden at the base of our building – our own urban jungle, wild with rosemary, spider plants and huge trees that keep us shaded during hot summer months.
I met with the same friendly neighbour one afternoon excited to learn the ropes and get stuck in – until she opened the lid of the compost bin.
The smell alone had me rethinking whether composting was worth the hassle, not to mention the sight of worms wriggling through the heap of food scraps.
Nevertheless, after a quick induction on tips and tricks for keeping the smell at bay, I’m now a keen and confident composter, always delighted to learn about new items that I can throw into the bin to give back to the earth.
So what does it take to get started?
First of all, let me jump back to explaining the concept behind
If you’re currently living in a multi-unit dwelling, contact your local council who will help set up a composting system in your unit or apartment block. Implemented by the Community Sustainability Team, it takes just two units signing up to get the ball rolling.
What about the smell?
I learned quickly that if I was going to keep up composting, I needed to learn ways to handle the smell. What I discovered is that a few handfuls of garden lime mixed in with your heap will help mask an odour and deter vinegar flies.
And the creepy crawlies?
This is a slightly trickier one. Admittedly, while I still squirm – pun not intended – at the sight of worms in our compost bin, our local council aid informed us that they actually benefit from our efforts just as much as the earth. We also thought we’d had an infestation of maggots due to unseasonably warm weather, only to learn that they’re Soldier Fly Larva – industrious little wrigglers that help break down matter and odour in compost. Creepy crawlies are your friends, not your foe! They just take some getting used to.
What unexpected items can I add to my compost?
Among your everyday food scraps – aside from meat and dairy – there are an abundance of other items you can chuck into your bin. This includes floor sweepings, egg shells, hair and even nail clippings! Being an avid tea drinker, I feel good putting my used bags of English Breakfast to work by helping the environment.
The benefits of composting are endless.
Aside from allowing the earth around us to regenerate and thrive from its nutrients, it’s allowed me to connect to my natural surroundings, as well as my neighbours.
Most of all, it’s helped me to realise that there are always ways to live a greener, more sustainable lifestyle whether you live in the city, coast or country.