Conscientious recyclers will have been carefully washing out tins, cans, margarine tubs and sauce bottles for years, putting them out for recycling every week, happy in the knowledge that another couple of bags of waste will not be going to landfill.
But what about organic kitchen waste? Throwing peelings, plate scrapings etc… away in the kitchen bin seems wasteful, plus these things can become smelly after a few days. There must be a better way of dealing with them.
Lots of people have enough space for a compost heap, and keep a crock of some description in the kitchen in which to keep all the kitchen waste until it can be transferred to the heap. But what are you supposed to do if you don’t have a garden, or enough space for a compost heap? And what are you supposed to do with meat and other types of waste which aren’t suitable for compost?
One space saving alternative is to set up a wormery. There are a number of space efficient designs available, and the tray systems are easy to set up and maintain. The ‘worm tea’ generated by wormeries is a fantastic source of organic nutrition for plants, and of course the lovely, dark, crumbly compost they create is great for planting seeds in for the new season.
However wormeries can be overwhelmed by the amount of kitchen waste generated by even a small household, and also cannot take meat or fish waste. I have always been of the opinion that if I feed the worms meat, they will develop a taste for it and come after me during the night. Consequently I’ve always been reluctant to add meat to their trays.
One method I have recently discovered which can be used in conjuntion with a wormery is bokashi. This is a Japanese method of composting which involves using anaerobic processes and bran impregnated with special micro-organisms to pickle the waste. This means that it breaks down extremely quickly once it is put into the ground or other composting systems. The other advantage is that you can put absolutely anything in it (with the exception of chillies and teabags, apparently, although I put teabags in anyway) including meat and fish.
I currently use a bokashi bucket in my kitchen, which then gets put into a womery in my garden. This works quite well as the waste breaks down quickly once added to the wormery. However I think the bokashi system still produces more than I can put into the wormery. Bokashi’d food can be dug directly into the soil, where it is supposed to break down really quickly. However I have found that it can get dug up again by foxes, cats etc… so this is not ideal. Also the start up kits are not cheap. Some councils offer discounted kits, but buying bran every 2 months also costs.
Aside from being known around the house as the ‘bin police’ with all my little systems, this seems to work fairly well. However I wonder if there’s a better way? What do you do with peelings, plate scrapings etc…?