The rate at which we are exhausting the world of its resources and natural materials is finally starting to take an obvious toll. Ironically, it is always the biggest, most global problems that are the easiest to ignore. I suppose they just don’t feel real enough unless they are on our doorstep. Increasingly however, these issues are beginning to invade our lives on a daily basis- proving that when scientists, politicians and the media talk about a planet in crisis- they do actually mean us.

So what can we do about it? Well, like charity and kindness, recycling also begins at home. You may think that your contribution is too small and ineffectual to make a difference but if every home started doing their bit, think of the effect the 66 million people in this country alone could have! People power really does exist; it just requires one person or one event to be the catalyst- today that could be you.

Let’s keep it really simple and deal with one form of home recycling per article for the next couple of months. Small steps are not difficult but they eventually add up. Today we will talk about home composting.

Home composting helps to protect the environment in a variety of ways. It reduces the amount of organic waste that normally goes into your brown bins, which in turn also reduces the number of visits our collection vehicles make to composting sites to unload—reducing fuel and noise pollution. Home composting has been practiced for many years, and provides a dark, soil-like substance that is used to enrich garden soil and nourish houseplants.

Every bit of household waste that is composted reduces the need for landfills, making our environment greener and cleaner. By producing your own compost it also avoids dependency on chemical-based composts and also helps to preserve valuable peat land habitat. The types of things able to be used as compost include- uncooked kitchen waste, fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags, egg shells, coffee grounds, grass clippings, prunings hedge clippings, weeds, dead plants, fallen leaves, shredded newspaper, cardboard, egg boxes, kitchen paper and vegetarian animal bedding.

A long list indeed, there are however, some things that must not be included in your compost. The list goes- metals, plastic, glass, diseased plants, nappies, cat or dog

faeces, cat litter, barbecue or coal ash, cooked food, plate scrapings, meat, fish, dairy products and fabric.

Depending on factors like the types of materials used, the climate where you live and the amount you are making, your compost can take anything from six weeks to a year before it is ready. Softer items such as grass decompose faster than woody material but both types should be added to ensure a good mix. No, accelerators or enhancers are not necessary as the required enzymes and bacteria are naturally occurring and plentiful within your compost bin; just make sure you position your heap so that it gets adequate sunlight, which speeds up the effect of the enzymes. If it ever becomes too dry you can always throw some tarpaulin or even an old large rug.

Many people will probably have concerns about the smell produced by a nearby compost heap. Surprisingly, most compost does not smell. However, if the bin is stuffed with grass clippings it may do. To prevent this add a layer of torn newspaper, card, straw or hedge clippings to every bin liner of grass added and the problem should not occur. Also remember to periodically fork your heap to avoid it becoming too compacted and you should have no problems at all.

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