More than half of the material in Hastings orange rubbish bags could have been composted. This means you could be paying over $100 per year to throw away food and green garden waste (‘organic waste’) instead of dealing with it at home – for free.
Both Hastings District Council and Napier City Councils’ want to prevent this organic waste going to the Omarunui Landfill where it produces harmful liquids and gases that cost significant time and money to deal with.
There are a number of ways to dispose of organic waste at home, such as composting or worm farming, or you can take your organic waste to a suitable commercial facility (such as BioRich Composting, in Awatoto, Napier).
How much organic rubbish is in our orange bags?
Managing your organic waste at home
How to compost
Compost results from the decomposition of garden and food scraps. Depending on what you put in it and how often it is turned, it can take anywhere between two to18 months before the compost is ready to use on your garden.
As the organic material breaks down, it changes and becomes what is known as humus. During the process, soil micro-organisms, worms and insects convert the organics into a soil-like material.
- Lay twigs or straw a few inches deep on bare earth. This first layer helps in drainage and aeration
- Alternate layers between wet (food scraps, tea bags, seaweed) and dry material (straw, leaves, sawdust).
- Add manure, clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass and/or grass clippings for a source of nitrogen to activate the compost.
- Cover with wood, plastic sheeting or carpet scraps to trap moisture and heat.
- Keep your compost moist and turn it with a pitchfork every few weeks to aerate the pile.
- Compost bins are available to buy from the Hawke’s Bay Environment Centre on Karamu Road Hastings.
Make your own compost bin: When you have decided to reduce your food and garden waste, why not reduce another waste material? Take a drive around industrial areas in the region to find old wood pallets. Often these can only be used once for health and safety reasons so they make perfect compost containers. Once you have found some (remember to ask the company for permission first!), grab three to make a back wall and two side walls to contain an open compost heap.
Why should you compost:
- Returning organic matter to your garden enriches depleted soil.
- It keeps harmful organic waste out of the landfill. Organic waste in a landfill emits methane and CO2, creates leachate, and can give off bad smells.
- It reduces the need for inorganic fertilisers in your garden, saving you money.
- It reduces rubbish collection costs, saving you money.
How to worm farm
Worm farming is an alternative to composting. Worms happily eat food scraps and excrete valuable materials known as vermicasts and worm tea which are high in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium compared to ordinary soil. This makes them valuable for plant growth, root and stem strength, and flower and fruit growth.
- Choose a sheltered site such as a carport or covered porch.
- Put in a damp hay/coconut fibre/shredded cardboard/paper layer, and top with at least 1000 (about 250g) of tiger worms (2000 is even better!).
- Small pieces of food can then be added (see the guide below to find out what worms love to eat). You can cover food scraps with damp newspaper or cardboard to limit flies and odour. Water the worm farm occasionally.
- Add dry leaves or torn up paper products if the farm is too wet; the working area should be as damp as a wrung out sponge.
- Small flies or white worms/bugs mean the farm has become too acidic; add a sprinkling of lime.
- Remove worm tea from the bottom level, dilute and use on your garden as a fertiliser.
- After a few months or when a layer is full, harvest the casts, ensuring a few worms are left in the current working layer.
|What worms like||What worms don't like|
|Most fruit and vegetable scraps||Spicy food, chili, onion, garlic|
|Coffee grounds and loose leaf tea||Meat and milk products|
|Aged horse manure||Wheat-bread products|
|Dirty paper||Cooked or baked food|
|Small amounts of crushed eggshells||Green waste|
|Small amounts of vacuum cleaner dust||Shiny paper|
|Hair||Citrus and acidic fruit and vegetables|
Why should farm worms:
- Casts and worm tea are fantastic for plants (always dilute the worm tea with water to the colour of weak tea - usually about 1:10).
- If you have mostly kitchen waste and live in a home with little or no outdoor space, a worm farm is a good option.
- A worm farm has the same environmental and cost benefits as composting.