How can I reduce the amount of waste I produce?

Waste can be reduced by:

  • buying items with less packaging
  • using available rec ycling services
  • composting garden and food waste at home {general}

It is estimated that garden and food waste accounts for over 50% of household waste. Mulching and composting can make a significant difference in reducing such waste.

Using mulch and compost in the garden have the added benefits of boosting soil fertility and conserving soil moisture.

Green Waste

Green waste means grass clippings, leaves and also tree prunings. Green waste is collected at waste transfer stations and landfill sites and is converted to mulch. When leaving green waste at such centres, it is important to ensure it does not have other general garbage mixed with it.

Home Composting

Home composting is a good way to significantly reduce your household waste. When composted, food waste and garden clippings decompose to make a great mulch for your garden.

You can either make your own compost heap in a shady part of your garden or use a compost bin. Compost bins can be purchased at most hardware stores and some councils provide them to their ratepayers at a discount.

Items that can be added to compost include:

  • vegetable & fruit peelings
  • tea bags & coffee grinds
  • vacuum dust
  • small prunings, leaves & grass clippings
  • straw & sawdust
  • flowers
  • wood ash
  • shredded paper & cardboard
  • used potting mix

The compost should be added in layers, with a layer of food scraps ideally being covered with a layer of grass clippings or leaves.

The following items are not suitable for composting:

  • meat and bones
  • dairy products
  • large prunings
  • pet droppings
  • weeds with seeds
  • bleached paper or magazines.

The compost needs moisture and air to decompose effectively. To achieve this, turn it regularly and make sure it is always kept reasonably moist, without being waterlogged.

Worm Farms

Worm farms are another way to reduce food and garden waste. Worm castings that result from the worm's decomposition of waste, also make an excellent soil conditioner for your garden.

As with compost heaps, a worm farm should be placed in a cool and shady part of the garden. The worms need:

  • a dark, moist, but not waterlogged environment at all times
  • any compostable food items, shredded into smaller pieces to allow the worms to efficiently decompose them
  • neutral acidity with a pH level kept around 7.

This pH level can usually be achieved quite easily by ensuring a layer of green waste or moist paper or cardboard is regularly added with the food waste. Ensure that paper waste is not bleached or contaminated with any chemicals. Newspapers and cardboard from food packaging are ideal.

Most hardware stores and garden centres sell worm farms and worms and will give you advice about how to look after them.