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Give Back to Nature - Compost It!

I was lucky enough to grow up in some pretty special Scottish countryside. We were surrounded by fields and big leafy oak trees. We had free-range chickens, naughty dogs and a big vegetable patch. We also have some of the longest hours of sunshine up in the highlands in the summer so our fruit is some of the best and bursting with vitamin C. Living this way, we were taught from an early age not to waste a thing – left over veggie food went to the chickens, paper & plastic recycled, meat to the dogs and anything else in the compost heap. Living in London now, I have to admit, it is much harder to give back to nature. I always try to recycle, I choose free-range eggs and have a window garden but don’t have a dog or any chickens to eat the leftovers. Here are a few tips though to making sure your waste is used in the right way if you are living in the city.
  1. Sign up to your borough’s food waste program. The council send you a little brown box and some green bags – you then just recycle your food waste like any other recyclable waste & the council empties the communal bins on specific days. This waste is then processed and made into fertilizer while the gas produced is converted into electricity so it is nice to know I am helping somewhere.
  2. Don’t just throw your grass or hedge clippings into the general waste; this is just one more thing to clog up the landfill. Make sure to take them to a local composting depot or bin so they can be turned into delicious plant & soil food again.
  3. Shop cleverly. If you go to local markets you can buy just one courgette or two tomatoes – not a whole pack that is going to go off. Also, find yourself a dish that you love that you can use all your leftover veg in – mine is a lentil bake with feta & whatever is in the fridge - yum.
If you are lucky enough to be living in the country, here is what you can do.
  1. There are a variety of really good compost bins on the market now that you can tuck away at the bottom of the garden. Otherwise, simply just start building a heap! A sealed box/bin will work best though.
  2. Make sure you locate it directly on the turf and away from any excess water.
  3. Once set up you can now start to compost around 40% of what you were previously putting in the bin. Make sure you have a mixture of ‘green’ (wet products – tea bags, cooked vegetables, fruit, grass cuttings, weeds etc.) and ‘brown’ (dry products -paper, sawdust, straw, hay etc.) waste. This will ensure your compost can breathe and that you have the right balance of elements.
  4. If your compost looks sludgy or gets a bit smelly it’s probably because you have got too much ‘green’ waste in there. Just add some more ‘brown’ materials and toss it around a little and this should help.
If you don’t have a dog, cat or chickens for the rest of it, make friends with your neighbours and give it to them! Councils and boroughs can save millions each year if their residents recycle and compost a bit more – you owe it really.


By Rosannagh Hillary

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