Why you should start composting in 2023

By Sammie Eastwood
Millions of tonnes of food waste is created every year and sent to rot in landfills. But there is a much better use for it. Compost

Food waste is a huge problem, it is estimated that the UK alone throws away 9.5million tonnes of food waste every year, even when many of its citizens are struggling to make ends meet. UK supermarkets are said to be throwing away 100,000s of edible items each year due to guidelines preventing them from selling things past certain, in many cases, arbitrary dates. Although, a step to tackle this has been to remove ‘best before’ from many of their products. But supermarkets are not the only problem.

Year after year, consumers throw away millions of tonnes of food due to poor meal planning and a lack of education on how to identify spoiled foods. According to the Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP) the cost of living crisis is helping to reduce household food waste as people become more conscious of their spending. Food scarcity is confronting shoppers on a daily basis as supermarkets still battle with empty shelves. Anyone who attempted to buy a tomato in March 2023 likely came up short.

But even with consumers being more conscious about how much food they’re wasting, there is still food waste that exists that needs to be dealt with. For most this will end up in landfill along with all other non-recyclable waste. Except, food waste is recyclable, but unfortunately composting isn’t as popular of a practice as it should be. People think of it as messy or space inefficient, but there are plenty of ways to start composting that are easy, while helping to make you and your business a little more green.

Why is composting a good thing

Composting represents a rich source of organic material that can be used for gardening, growing vegetables and even for indoor plants. While acting as a means to reduce the waste that is sent to landfill, it actually has other unexpected benefits. For instance, well made compost contains a host of micronutrients that can act as pesticides, that can reduce the dependence on chemicals that damage the environment.

Compost creates excellent soil, adjusting things such as air circulation, nutrient density, as well as the PH level to make it a perfect environment for growing plants and crops. As it is a by-product of food you have already bought, it is essentially free fertiliser, and has much lower air miles than similar products you’d buy in a store.

Methane emissions from organic materials are responsible for a third of methane emissions every year, this is especially true in landfills where there is a lack of good air circulation allowing the gases to build up. Composting helps to reduce these gases, since the methane-producing microbes aren’t activated, and less materials are being sent to landfills. Not only this but compost actually pulls CO2 from the atmosphere, so the more of it there is in circulation the better the air quality for everyone.

Further to this, certain products made from vegetal materials, such as paper or cardboard, can be composted, which also cuts down on the amount of recycling produced by a business or household. This reduces the amount of waste that needs to be transported, which helps lower emissions through lower vehicle use and less processing at recycling centres.

How can I get started composting?

Starting composting might seem intimidating for some people but it’s a lot easier than it seems. Many compost bins are available, which can be stored alongside recycling or refuse bins in a home or office kitchen. Although it is a good idea to empty compost bins on a more regular basis to avoid attracting flies inside.

For storing compost there are a lot of great solutions, such as this Compost Tumbler made by mantis, that allows for good circulation of the compost. Although, making and storing compost isn’t for everyone. You might not have the space to make compost or not have a use for the end product. However, apps like OLIO allow you to connect with local people who would be happy to take that organic waste off your hands. So, there’s really no excuse not to start.

For those who actually do want to take on the challenge of making their own compost, here are a few hints and tricks to get you started. According to experts, good compost is made up of equal measures of ‘green’ and ‘brown’ waste. The former being things such as vegetable waste, eggshells, cardboard, while the latter is made up of garden waste such as dead leaves and twigs. It is important to never put cooked food, dairy products, meat or fish onto compost as these create bad odours and attract pests like flies and rats. It can take up to 9 to 12 months for good compost to be produced, making this a waiting man’s game, but well worth it.

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