About half of what goes into household bins is organic waste – that’s food scraps, leftovers and garden trimmings. If you don’t yet have a FOGO bin (or even if you do), there are lots of ways to manage this waste at home, keep it out of the bin, and even turn it into something good for your garden. GREAT sorts call this earth-cycling!
Compost bins, worm farms and Bokashi systems are three popular ways to earth-cycle. But which one is best for your household? Let’s take a look at each option in detail.
Composting is a cheap, easy way to improve the quality of soil in your garden and divert organic waste from landfill – and all you really need is a compost bin, some space outside and organic material to fill it up. Compost requires less ongoing maintenance than a worm farm or Bokashi.
Best suited to: households with lots of scraps and a garden with space for a compost bin (about 1m2)
Ideal for: fruit and veggie kitchen scraps, tea leaves and bags, coffee grounds, cut flowers, grass clippings, egg shells, paper, garden trimmings
In moderation: onion, citrus, pasta, bread, pasta, cheese
Don’t add: woody branches, meat, bones, poultry or fish. Never add cat or dog poo.
Learn more: download our composting factsheet
Keeping worms is a fantastic way to improve your soil to grow healthy plants – the castings they produce are gold for the garden! Worms take a bit of care, particularly over the hot summer months, and they can only eat a small amount of scraps at any one time. If you have a big family, you might need an extra large worm farm (try an old fridge) or multiple worm farms to get through all your scraps.
Best suited to: households with a garden or balcony that produce a small amount of kitchen scraps
Ideal for: fruit and veggie kitchen scraps, tea leaves and bags, coffee grounds, non-woody garden refuse, natural fibre clothing, damp paper products
In moderation: onion, citrus, meat, high nitrogen material like fresh lawn clippings and manure
Learn more: download our worm farm factsheet
The Bokashi method is a practical way to transform kitchen waste into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner by creating the ideal conditions for fermentation. It’s great for small inside spaces as it won’t smell (you can fit a Bokashi bin in your kitchen or laundry), but you do need somewhere to bury the end product once all your food scraps have broken down.
Best suited to: apartments and houses without a big outside space
Ideal for: fruit and veggie kitchen scraps, tea leaves and bags, coffee grounds, prepared foods, cheese, eggs, break, meat and fish (cooked and uncooked)
In moderation: paper
Learn more: download our composting options factsheet
Why should I earth-cycle?
Earth-cycling is a small action that makes a big difference.
When compressed and buried in landfill, organic food and garden waste will break down anaerobically (without oxygen), releasing potent greenhouse gases such as methane into the atmosphere; while all the carbon, nutrients, and other goodies in those organic materials go to waste.
When you compost at home, you’re creating the ideal conditions for organic materials to break down and give back to the soil, just like in nature. You can then use your compost to improve your soils, grow more food and gardens, and continue the cycle.
If you’ve got a FOGO bin, the process is exactly the same, just on a much larger scale! Instead of going to landfill, your food organics and garden organics are taken to a processor and combined with other materials to make compost. After a 2-week heating process to kill pathogens and weeds and a 12-week aerobic composting process to break down the materials, it’s ready to be bagged for sale. Then it’s on to your garden to nurture your plants – and the cycle begins again.