Composting is a great way to reduce waste at home! Follow our handy tips below.
If you don’t already compost at home, now’s a great time to get started. With just a little set-up, you’ll be able to compost your food scraps, paper and cardboard as well as garden waste and lawn clippings. In two to six months you’ll have a great product for your vegetable garden or fruit trees!
If you haven't quite got things together to get started with composting now, you can dig your food waste into a trench, as shown in this short video below from Sustainable Taranaki.
Rosie has a few tips as well for you:
A compost pile needs to be at least 1 m high x 1 m wide x 1 m deep. It should sit straight on the soil, and be positioned away from your home and any dogs.
To create a compost bin or pile, use materials you already have in your shed or garage, such as:
- Chicken wire, wire mesh, sacks or netting, formed into a circle with stakes or branches, and wire or string to hold down the loose edge.
- Wood, pallets, fencing, tin, bricks or concrete blocks, formed into a three-sided square.
- A large cardboard box, sack, or plastic rubbish bin or container (just drill some holes in the base for air).
Or simply cover a heap of layered material with a plastic tarp, or a piece of tin, old carpet or untreated plywood. This will help retain moisture and heat, and protect your compost pile from rain.
To deter rodents, you can dig a trench and then place your wire circle down below the level of the soil, or place a rat trap next to your bin if you have one.
Whatever set up you chose, start your compost off with a good layer of twigs or small branches, to bring in air to speed up the composting process.
What can I compost?
To make great compost and avoid smells, you need to add more ‘Browns’ than ‘Greens’. You should ideally aim for 70% brown to 30% green materials from the list below.
Browns are mainly made from carbon, and are dry and brittle. Greens are full of nitrogen and moisture, so they break down quickly, but can also become smelly. Together, browns and greens make great compost. Ensure that larger items such as paper and cardboard are ripped into small pieces to speed up the composting process.
Sources of browns and greens for your home compost include:
- Paper and newspaper (no thermal receipts, or shiny, waxy or metallic paper)
- Paper bags
- Kitchen paper towels
- Egg cartons (rip)
- Cardboard (remove tape, rip)
- Dry fallen leaves
- Dry grass clippings
- Egg shells (crush)
- Wood ash
- Pet or animal hair
- Food scraps
- Coffee grinds
- Tea leaves and teabags (no plastic pyramid bags)
- Fresh grass clippings
- Garden clippings
- Non-invasive weeds
- Old flowers
Looking after your compost
Continue layering greens and browns so there is a good mix throughout your pile, with more browns than greens.
Compost piles also needs moisture and oxygen.
Without air, your pile will start to smell. You may need to add water to dry layers to always keep your compost moist like a sponge. You can also keep moisture in (and avoid sogginess when it rains) by covering your compost with a piece of tin, wood or carpet. A cover also helps keep away flies and other insects.
If your pile is getting too compacted, aerate it by digging in a garden fork, branch or stake and opening up some holes.
When you turn or spread your finished compost you should wear a facemask and gloves to minimize any risk of catching legionella disease.
Check out this great downloadable Zero Waste composting brochure.
Resources to learn more
Find local options for donating, recycling and disposing your items safely and correctly.