Starting your own compost at home thanks to these tips… | The Colombo
Starting your own compost at home thanks to these tips from Trade Aid and Love Food Hate Waste.

Starting your own compost at home thanks to these tips from Trade Aid and Love Food Hate Waste.

Trade Aid has been using Econic compostable wrappers for our chocolate wrapper since 2014. We chose Econic compostable packaging for our chocolate block and bars because it’s designed to retain the functionality and food safety provided by traditional plastic films, but without the impact on the environment.Trade Aid chocolate wrappers are compostable when disposed of in an active composting environment. The ideal environment will contain heat, water, oxygen, soil and micro-organisms. If you are missing one of these elements, for example your home compost is too dry, the composting process will not be as effective.

Compost trials completed by Econic have shown that their bags can break down into small fragments in as little as 16 weeks, but the rate of breakdown will vary depending on the compost environment.

To help the composting process, you can shred your wrappers into small pieces before adding to your home compost pile.

How to start a compost system:

Learn about compost. (See below a detailed way thanks to the - Love Food Hate waste team). bit of background research makes all the difference!

Choose your container. Compost bins, pallets, compost tumblers or a simple compost heap are a few options.

Find a sunny position in your garden.

Add items to your compost in groups of “brown” carbon-containing items (newspaper, straw, leaves, brown paper) and “green” nitrogen–containing items (food scraps, lawn clippings, Trade Aid chocolate wrappers, Trade Aid coffee grinds).  The ratio should be one third “green” nitrogen and two-thirds “brown” carbon. Add some water between each layer.

Mix regularly, every 2-3 days. If it starts to get smelly, gluggy and dense, add more carbon-containing items.

In 6-8 weeks you will have beautiful rich, dark brown compost. Some items such as compostable wrappers may take longer to decompose.

Why should you compost?

Composting is good for the environment as it allows food to break down naturally, with oxygen. This means it does not release harmful greenhouse gases like it would do, if it was buried in a landfill. 

Composting breaks down non-avoidable food waste and turns it into nutrients that can feed your garden.

How to compost:

Choose a sunny spot in your garden.

Place the compost bin directly on top of the ground so that soil organisms can get into your compost bin and help break down your compost.

Then place sticks and twigs in the bin. This allows the air to circulate.

Begin adding your compost to the bin with a ratio of 40% food scraps to 60% brown matter. You want to add a layer of browns first, followed by a layer of greens and finish with a top layer of browns.  Tip: keep a bag of leaves next to your compost bin so as you add in your food waste you always have some browns handy.

Tip: If you chop your food scraps and garden cuttings into smaller pieces, it will break down faster and have less of a smell. Do not add any sticks that are thicker than your little finger, as sticks that are larger than that will not break down fast enough. Larger sticks can always be added to the base of your compost.

If you want your compost to break down more quickly then turn it once a week to allow for air flow through all of the compost. Use a shovel to mix the layers up.

Once the compost bin is full, do not add any more scraps to the bin, but continue to stir it regularly.  Tip: if you are not able to stir it regularly, adding in seaweed, horse manure, sheep manure or comfrey leaves will also help your compost break down faster and add valuable nutrients.

Your compost is ready to be added to the garden when the material at the bottom of the compost bin is dark and crumbly and you can no longer identify food scraps or brown matter. This should take about 6 to 8 months.

To harvest the compost, take the bin off the pile and place it in another part of your garden. Shovel the top two-thirds of your compost back into the bin and then harvest the bottom third.  Alternatively, some store-bought compost bins have flaps that open at the bottom of the bin, allowing you to harvest the compost without moving the bin.

Add the harvested compost to your garden to boost the growth of your plants. Dig it into your vegetable garden or add to your garden beds.

Look out for The Colombo Compost classes opening this Summer.