We all know that we need to reduce our waste. I like to think that our generation is a lot more self aware and genuinely interested in making a difference for future generations. AIthough I must admit, I surprised even myself when I managed to drag my (slightly hungover) butt to a composting workshop on a Saturday morning. Ok so the husband may have been the one doing the dragging but the point is I made it… after a compulsory coffee and bacon and egg bap stop.

Despite being in a less than ideal frame of mind, I found the workshop super useful and would recommend you get yourself to one. In Auckland these are run by the council through the Compost Collective. They’re free to attend and they offer a pretty decent incentive of a $40 discount on composting equipment per person.

Since attending the workshop we’ve come across several other options that have got us down to putting out the wheelie bin once a month rather than every week. Here are our top picks…

 

Composting

Composting is awesome but only really if you have the space and generate enough waste to keep it balanced. If there’s one thing I learnt from the workshop it’s that composting is a fine art. You need to have a lot more ‘brown’ waste (i.e. dry newspaper/dried garden clippings) versus ‘green’ waste (general food scraps/wet garden waste). Great if you have the patience and resources to keep it maintained but tricky if you’re only throwing out kitchen scraps.

Outdoor cold compost bin

Compost bins aren’t too fussy and will take most of your scraps

 

Worm farm

I really wanted a worm farm before going to the workshop, I mean it’s like having pets right?! Unfortunately the reality is that worms are fussy little shits and only eat certain foods. They hate citrus, spicy foods, onions, garlic and all cooked food. If you have both a compost and a worm farm this is a really good option as anything they won’t eat can go to your compost and the worm’s pee (which gets collected in the bottom of the farm) makes a great fertiliser for the garden! We now have a worm farm as our landlords are super cool and put one in for our block of houses to share – sadly it doesn’t seem to be thriving as not everyone respects the very specific palate of our slithery mates.

Worm farm

This worm farm can process up to two kilos of waste per day

 

Bokashi bin

Designed by a Japanese dude who wanted to find a way for apartment dwellers to compost, these things are the business. As a household of two living in close quarters this is our choice. You don’t need to worry about balancing green with brown waste like your regular compost bin and unlike the worm farm you can feed this thing anything and everything. I won’t bore you with how it works (you can find a better explanation here anyway). The only thing you’ll need to worry about is where to bury the end product (which makes a good compost if you have a garden). So far we have had ours for about 6 months and haven’t had to bury it yet – it’s incredible how much you can squeeze into them!

Zing Bokashi Bin

A Bokashi Composting Bin is small enough to squeeze into a cupboard or under the sink

 

Squishy plastics

For some random reason this is one of the best kept secrets even though it’s probably stared you straight in the face every time you go to the supermarket. You know all those fruit/vege bags and all the packets that bread/biscuits/most packaged food comes in? Well you can recycle those! We had no idea until we went to the workshop. Look for the big cylindrical bins outside The Warehouse and many supermarkets. This realisation has singehandedly made the most difference to our waste output. I will tell anyone who listens about this and it’s amazing how many people have never heard about these bins.

Soft or squishy plastic recycling bin at The Warehouse

Soft or squishy plastic recycling bin at The Warehouse

 

Freeze offcuts from veges

You know those annoying bits of veges that end up in the bin? Save em, freeze em and boil the crap out of them once you have a full container and voila – vege stock! Same goes for meat bones.

Vegetable scraps can be used to make a compost veggie stock

Scraps can be used to make a compost vege stock

 

Woven produce bags

We stumbled across these at a local Birkenhead market. They were about $10 for 3 sizes and they save us from having to use those silly little plastic sacks they make you use for veges/fruit at the supermarket (which instantly break!). Slight downside is that they add a bit of weight to your fruit but I’m not sure this would make much of a difference.

Cotton alternative to plastic fruit and vegetable bags

These cotton bags are a great reusable alternative to plastic

 

Bee pollen sheets

We found these beauties at the Food Show – you use them instead of gladwrap. They smell delicious and keep cheese fresh for waaay longer. Also great for fresh herbs.

Bee Wrapt food wrap

Bee cool and ditch plastic food wrap

 

Then there’s all the more obvious stuff like growing your own veges to avoid having to buy bagged produce, recycling whatever you can at home and taking reusable bags to the supermarket. If you forget your reusables (as we often do) you can use the bags to take lunches to work and when they break pop them in the magical squishy plastics bin. My advice is to pack your own groceries too as it seems standard for checkout operators to class a bag as full when it’s only got 2 or 3 items in it – does my head in!

 

Now, go forth and reduce thy waste planeteers!