Composting at home

I mistakenly thought that it doesn’t matter if a bit of green waste goes in the wheelie bin, because it will just make compost at the tip.

Actually, organic components of domestic refuse are a very serious problem at the tip and should be avoided.

Have you found it too hard to set up a composting system at home? I hope this article will help to make it easier…

Green waste at the tip

Green waste from household rubbish bins is the biggest single problem at council tips. The organic matter dumped in the ordinary bins becomes contaminated with toxins from the dump and renders the nutrients useless for future food chains.

When bio-degradable items go to landfill, they give off gases uselessly for the most part, or worse, they may also contribute to global warming. It’s far better that these wastes should be composted at home where the nitrogen and carbon can be safely re-used.

Australian households generate the second highest amount of waste per capita in the world. On average we throw away around 20 million tonnes of waste per year and the amount is growing. According to environmental groups, landfills are busting at the seams.

Listen to ABC RN talkback and panel show on this topic – download from this page

It is important to keep food waste out of the council tip. You can convert all your organic waste into something great for the soil, save money on garbage bills and fertilize your garden.

In our Energymark group at nearly every meeting the discussion turns to home composting systems. The reason we are preoccupied with this topic is that everyone has a different set of circumstances and for some households it is not a simple and easy matter. It is very inspiring to participate in such a group and hear how other people have attempted to overcome such obstacles as:

  •     Project seems too difficult
  •     Small or non-existent garden
  •     Highrise living makes it impractical for daily visits to the garden compost patch
  •     Kids won’t cooperate, saying the scraps are too smelly
  •     Long working hours leaves little time free for gardening

Options include:

  1. Compost bin or compost patch – there is much written elsewhere about methods and equipment. We have found the Aerobin to be the most successful
  2. Bokashi composting method – see my pages on Bokashi in the kitchen and Bokashi pet droppings
  3. Worm farming – easy, odour-free, and worms will dispose of everything except the skins of oranges, onions and garlic. Easy method here.
  4. Chook yard – in our joint venture raising free-range chickens we throw in all our kitchen scraps. The motto is ‘what the chooks don’t eat, the worms will, then the chooks eat the worms’.
  5. Council Green Waste recycling service – a green wheelie bin for your garden prunings and lawn clippings, collected by council and taken to the composting or mulching department at the tip BUT most councils won’t accept kitchen scraps or pet droppings in the green waste collection. For example in Brisbane – information is here.

So the answer for your home may be a combination of these systems.


I strongly recommend joining an Energymark discussion group or similar to discuss this issue. It really helps to hear what others do.

It could work to share a green council wheelie bin between neighbours in the case of small suburban gardens.

How to dispose of orange peels and onion skins if you have a worm farm?

What to do with pet droppings? – One way is Bokashi and here is some information (though I haven’t tried it.)

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