A Guide to Composting at Home

Carbon emissions are high on the list of environmental concerns and while we often first think of the negative impact of cars and industry on global emissions, it might surprise you to learn about the serious impact of food waste.

Food waste not only poses a major economic burden but also has an alarming environmental impact. In Australia alone, a shocking 7.6 million tonnes of food goes to waste annually – that’s waste the size of the Melbourne Cricket Grounds nine times over. This food waste contributes to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, with around 17.5 million tonnes of CO2 emitted each year solely due to food wastage. 

Globally, food production and waste account for approximately 10 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, highlighting the substantial environmental impact of this issue. Thankfully, there is something we can all do to help this problem. There are lots of different ways that we can all be more sustainable when in comes to food, from making jams and pickles from less than fresh produce to sharing our excess home grown fruit and veg with neighbours. But one of the most significant ways we can reduce food waste-based carbon emissions is by starting a home compost.

Home composting can hugely reduce the negative impacts of household food waste. By composting food scraps at home, we can divert organic waste from landfills, where it would otherwise contribute to methane emissions, a particularly potent greenhouse gas. Methane is actually 28 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, according to the EPA.

Composting not only reduces emissions but it creates an incredibly positive by-product. Composting transforms food waste into nutrient-rich soil, reducing the need for synthetic fertilisers and promoting soil health. By embracing home composting, not only can we help circumvent the environmental harms of food waste but we can also empower ourselves to actively contribute to a more sustainable future. We hope our guide to composting at home helps you get started on your composting journey!


Getting Started with Composting 

There are some essential materials you’ll need to get started, as well as some core composting lessons. Combine these tips to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your new eco-friendly fertiliser.


Choosing a Compost Bin

Select a composting bin or container that fits your space and suits your needs. Options vary widely from traditional compost bins and modern and sleek rotating compost bins to apartment suitable bokashi bins and vermicomposting systems (worm bins). Do your research to find out which option will best suit your home and your lifestyle.


Collect Food Scraps

Gather up fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, eggshells and tea bags from your kitchen but don’t forget that you can make good use of any garden clippings and grass cuttings too. To prevent pests, avoid adding meat, dairy, and oily foods to your compost bin – these can attract rodents and slow down the composting process.


Creating the Perfect Compost Recipe

Create a balanced compost pile by alternating between “green” (nitrogen-rich) and “brown” (carbon-rich) materials. Greens include food scraps and grass clippings, while browns include dry leaves and shredded paper. Balancing these ingredients make sure that microorganisms have the right conditions to thrive and decompose the materials more efficiently.


Maintain The Right Level of Moisture With Aeration

Keep your compost pile moist but not waterlogged, and regularly turn or aerate it to promote decomposition and prevent odours. Some modern compost bins feature a tumbler mechanism to make this process even easier. Where possible, your compost heap should be turned every three to four days.


Monitor and Adjust, and Repeat

Effective composting means checking and adjusting regularly. Check the temperature, moisture level and decomposition progress of your compost pile and adjust the balance of greens and browns as needed to maintain optimal conditions.


Use Your Compost

After several months of decomposition, your compost will be ready to use as a nutrient-rich soil topper. Take the finished compost and incorporate it into your garden beds or containers.


Composting is a simple yet effective way to reduce your personal carbon footprint and promote a healthier garden bed. While there’s always a learning curve to any new hobby, with a little research and practice, composting is easy enough for anyone to get involved in. Start small, experiment, and watch as your food scraps transform into fertile soil teeming with life. Sadly, sometimes maintaining your own compost heap simply isn’t feasible. In these instances, look to community gardens or your local council to find out if there are other ways you can help to reduce food waste in your household. Even little changes can make a big difference!