Composting: How to Save Money and Help the Environment

Creating your own compost is a terrific way to save money and help the environment.

Saving Money and Helping the Environment

Composting provides a host of benefits for both you and our planet including:

  • Reduction of household waste which in turn saves you money on waste collection
  • Reduction of fuel on transportation of household waste to landfill sites
  • Reduction of greenhouse gases from rotting food in landfill sites
  • Compost improves soil health by increasing nutrients, which improves plant health and growth
  • It also encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi 
  • And helps soil retain moisture…

The Science Behind Composting

Compost is created over time, when waste high in nitrogen (Green Waste) is combined with waste high in carbon (Brown Waste), in an environment that provides both oxygen and water:

Green Waste + Brown Waste + Oxygen (O2) + Water (H2O) + Time = Compost

N.B. It is best to add equal measures of brown and green waste, and to give your mix a gentle turning on a regular basis to encourage air flow.

Hot Composting

If you gather enough waste to create an instant compost heap of around one cubic metre in size, you will provide conditions for hot composting. In these conditions, your compost heap can reach temperatures of 60-70 degrees C. 

The waste materials will break down faster, and your compost could be ready in as little as six months. 

Cold Composting

If you are accumulating waste over time, compost will be created more slowly, and temperatures inside your compost heap will be lower.  Thus, your compost will be ready in a year to eighteen months.

Types of Compost Heap

There are several ways to contain a compost heap.

Wood

I use a wooden surround recycled from a garden shed:

IMG_7396 (2)

You could also recycle old wooden pallets, doors…

N.B. Cover your compost heap with old carpet or heavy duty plastic, to maintain warmth, and prevent too much moisture/moisture evaporation. 

Ready Made Plastic

You can buy ready made heavy duty plastic compost bins, which provide:

  • A sealed environment for composting with a removable lid for adding waste
  • A door to extract compost from the bottom of the compost heap.

N.B. Both types of compost heap must sit on exposed soil. They will also do best in shade.

Tumblers

If you have a site that has no bare soil e.g. a balcony or fully paved back yard, you can still make compost using a tumbler. These are readily available online.

Although they can be a little expensive, they will provide compost in a shorter space of time. 

Gathering your Ingredients

I gather my Green Waste in a purpose made container with an air filter. It is emptied several times a week directly onto my compost heap.

Brown materials are also added on a regular basis.

Green Waste                                                                 Brown Waste

Fruit and Vegetable peelings                                          Leaves

Grass Clippings                                                                  Shredded paper

Coffee Grounds                                                                  Egg cartons

Tea Bags                                                                              Toilet roll /Kitchen roll cardboard…

Eggshells

Chopped up plant material e.g end of season annuals

Flowers that once graced your vases…

A Paper Shredder

As an author/blogger, I write a lot of notes!

I also save correspondence that includes my address and other confidential information.

They all go into my paper shredder:

IMG_8392

My shredded paper is then added to my compost bin.

Enjoying The Results

At the end of last summer, I was rewarded with four large containers of heavenly plant food for my garden:

There was enough to feed all my roses, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and bulbs…

I smiled as lots of happy plants celebrated their autumn feast!

Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from debilitating illness.

 

 

 

65 Comments »

  1. Such a comprehensive post, Brigid. I thought I knew a lot about composting and recycling…
    So much of our future will probably rely on this activity. It should be part of the schools’ curriculum – more just the basic 3R containers…. I bet kinds would have a blast!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Pat. I was blessed to teach organic horticulture in schools until 2016. Some schools were very enthusiastic at composting and others less so. I think children have the potential to create more positive waves…

      Like

  2. Brigid, you make this sound so tempting and wow, no wonder your garden looks stunning… I bet the plants are singing with joy as you apply your homemade compost. Although we don’t have a compost system in place at the moment I’m intrigued if we could get one to work. I like the idea it takes shredded paper … we throw away so much into recycling! This is a post I’m bookmarking for reference! Looking forward to your garden photo posts soon, Brigid! 😀🌺

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Annika. There is really a lot of waste that can be composted. I also stopped putting out any bins last year, and now I wash and separate plastic etc, and it goes to a local recycling centre. I only pay around a euro every few weeks plus the bonus of knowing that less goes into landfill. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • It must be a good feeling and I understand from your post that like many European countries there is a financial incentive as well with flexible pricing for rubbish collection. There is nothing so grand here in the UK (yet at least!) My husband and I actually discussed your post this morning and are looking into what would work for our garden. We recycle very much and when I was in America a few years ago it felt terrible to have to throw glass, plastic etc in the general rubbish since there was no recycling at all!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Composting is a very satisfying and useful thing to do. I’ve been doing it for years and am constantly amazed at the explosion of life that comes from it. Be careful when turning it though, as there could be some wee beasties making their home in there. So far I’ve had countless slow-worms, a hedgehog, and a couple of grass snakes say hi from the warm pile of goodness. The birds love the banquet of worms it produces too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Daniel. The number of people composting is growing worldwide. I am glad your wee beasties stayed safe. The only ones I have noticed were a little family of mice one winter who made a nest in shredded paper. I was glad they had some shelter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The grass snakes came as a bit of a shock, but they’re harmless. At least it wasn’t adders which could have posed a bit of a problem. I now check my compost heap like a methodical forensic scientist, which probably looks a bit odd to my neighbours.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. We have always composted and have two separate locations-one for me and one for Michael. We also have ready made soil from the Alpacas and cows. And extra note: Michael is starting to get his tomato seeds and it will soon be time to get those babies started. Happy Gardening!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hubby is right into this and it’s made a tremendous difference on our plants and waste. He has two types of compost going; one is old leaves and refuse from the yard, the other is shredded paper, scraps from the house, and red wiggler worms. He says they produce black gold for the garden 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Fantastic points and suggestions, good note on the shredded paper going in there, too. If you don’t have a garden you can always put old food stuffs into a green bin (UK) and paper in the other recycling bin. We compost half and half, half to the council recycling every 2 weeks, and half to the garden usually. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My dad use to compost. I dont know why I did not continue. You are so right so many reason and savings to compost.

    Stupid question, why shredded
    paper.

    I will be composting this year, cause we now have to pay for a ridiculous amount a year to have garden waste collected in the green bin. Do you think I can reuse the bin as a composting heap? The only thing is it is bit deep?

    My dad use to use some powder thing to help make better compost.

    What is brown waste?

    Oh by the way, love your shed compost heap.. so cool.

    I didn’t know the plastic compost bin need exposed soil… that’s a consideration.

    Great , valuable post

    Liked by 1 person

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