Some Basics to start Composting at home

by Berenice Westmore November 05, 2022 4 min read

Over 30% of all the waste produced in your household can be composted. Add that to your recyclable materials and almost all the waste we produce in our home has absolutely no need to end up in a landfill; where it pollutes our air, water and communities. More and more people are catching on to the ‘composting craze’ and you can start today.

Despite common misconceptions, composting is NOT complicated, does NOT make your household smell bad and it does NOT have to attract unwanted pests. Composting is possible in even the tiniest of apartments and you don’t even need a garden. There are various collectors in our cities who will come and collect your organic waste for you, or you can drop it off at one of your local composting plants. If you do have a garden, you can use the compost you produce as an all-natural fertilizer that promotes healthy plant growth.

Why is composting so important?
  • By composting the organic waste you produce, you significantly reduce the amount of waste you send to landfill. Landfill space in South Africa is fast running out and organic waste has been banned from landfill in the Western Cape by 2027
  • When organic matter decomposes at landfill it produces large amounts of the potent greenhouse gas Methane, which contributes to global warming
  • Toxic leachates from the decomposing matter pollute our waterways and pose health hazards to nearby communities.
  • Organic waste is a valuable resource! It can be transformed into nutrient-rich compost, animal feed and bio-gas.
How to get started
Step 1:

Get your hands on a composting bin. Garden composters (like Postwink’s example in this image) can store large amounts of organic waste away from pests and sunlight. Alternatively, you can make your own by adapting an existing plastic bin or container, just make sure you drill small holes in the plastic to allow for airflow but make sure they are not big enough for birds and rodents to enter!

Step 2:

Follow our guide of what you can compost and start collecting organic waste from your kitchen and garden to add to your bin. A nice mixture of brown waste (dry leaves, cardboard, paper etc.) and green waste (vegetable peelings, cut grass, coffee grinds etc.) will create a compost that is neither too dry or too wet. This will result in a mixture that is not too soggy and will reduce potential pests. However, remember that while we are trying to avoid birds and rodents; worms, bugs and microbes are natures way of breaking down organic waste and therefore these organisms are your friends!

Step 3:
  • Your compost will naturally break down over time. To speed up the process:
  • Keep adding ‘brown’ materials such as cardboard, paper, wood chippings, untreated wood, wine corks etc.
  • Keep the compost aerated through regular mixing and break up larger chunks
  • Put your bin somewhere sunny; the more heat, the faster the organic waste will decompose
  • Add some water if your compost is very dry
Step 4:

After a few months your compost will be ready. Your very own, all natural, nutrient-rich, eco-friendly, plant super food! Mix it in with some regular soil and watch your plants thrive.

What if you don’t have a garden?

In addition to the conventional method of composting described in the 4 easy steps above, there is an ingenious alternative that can be utilized in even the tiniest of apartments. I introduce you to Bokashi composting!

Invented by the Japanese Professor Teruo Higa from the University of the RyuKyus in Okinawa, Bokashi composting breaks down organic waste through anaerobic (devoid of oxygen) fermentation instead of regular aerobic decomposition. You simply deposit your food waste into the bin and for each layer you add a sprinkle of the earth bokashi bran. The bran contains micro-organisms that rapidly break down the food waste through fermentation. The liquid produced can be tapped off throughout this process and used to fertilize your plants or poured down the drain to clean your drainage system and prevent blockages.

Once your Bokashi bin is full, set it aside to ferment for an additional 2 weeks, after which it will be ready bury in your garden or add to your pot plants. If you don’t have either of these available, donate it to a friend or family member who has a garden! The bokashi will improve soil health and nutrients, enabling your plants to thrive.

What are the advantages of Bokashi composting?
  • It takes only about 4 weeks for the waste to ferment, as opposed to months for conventional composting.
  • There are no bad odours or pests as the bin is completely airtight
  • You can compost in your kitchen, no need for a garden or large space
  • You can even add bones, meat and dairy to your Bokashi bin
Start composting in your home today!

So, there you have it, composting is so easy and so beneficial for the environment there really is no excuse not to start your own home-composting initiative today. Spread the word and share your expertise with friends and family and get them to start composting too!