Beyond 9 to 5: Minimising food waste and composting

Did you know?  The Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre suggests that 40% of all the food we produce goes to waste. CQUniversity is actively involved in research in this field. 

We don’t mean to waste food but it happens, so to save food going into the bin we need to be careful with meal planning, food storage and using our leftovers creatively. Here are some tips on minimising food waste in your household, brought to you by the CQUni Sustainability team.

Why compost?

Most food waste is disposed in general waste bins which end up in landfill, resulting in the waste of all of the resources it takes to grow, transport, package and purchase. All of these elements also contribute to Greenhouse Gas emissions.

What’s the solution? Put your wheelie bin on a diet and start composting instead of sending to landfill. Compost worms are nature’s recyclers, converting kitchen scraps and garden clippings into nutrient-rich plant food, perfect for the garden and potted plants. Home compost can reduce weeds, improve soil quality, help the soil retain moisture, and reduce the need for chemical fertilisers.

Fighting waste is not hard, it just requires new habits

You can start by making the items that need to be consumed first more visible by moving them to the front of your fridge or pantry.

Next time you need to visit the shops, check what you already have in your pantry, fridge and freezer and make a shopping list. Better still, use a meal planner and shopping list template to guide your grocery list. Avoid panic buying as this only leads to increased food waste.

Bonus tip: Try to support your local growers and suppliers. They need your support now, more than ever!

When you get your groceries back home, cook your planned meals and store them (and any leftovers) in clear, airtight, reusable containers.

Pick a compost style

A compost bin is a more traditional option for residential areas and comes in a range of sizes and types. For a more urban style compost system, you could look into a bucket system for your kitchen bench.

In-ground systems are great if you have the space. Dig a hole and bury organics or add organics to a bucket/large pipe with holes drilled around the base. If you’re short on space, a worm farm is the best option for small yards and balconies.

This option might not suit everybody, but chickens are the ultimate and quickest composters. Just check your local council requirements for keeping feathered friends.

Keeping compost composure

Compost is all about location. Make sure that the spot gets a good amount of sun in winter but doesn’t bake during hot Aussie summers.

Ensure any open based systems have a good drainage base layer. To kick start your compost, add a few ‘green’, ‘brown’, ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ layers.

When it comes to worm farms, make sure you are feeding them the right foods. Some classic worm favourites include vegetable and food scraps, leaves, tea leaves and coffee grounds, vacuum cleaner dust, eggshells, some grass and small garden cuttings and used potting mix. 

It might get smelly, but don’t worry. Keep calm and compost on! It won’t take long to work out the right mix of air, layers and moisture to allow the organic matter to breathe. Don’t forget the occasional stir or tumble for aeration.

Want to know more? Take a look at these helpful resources.

This blog was written by the CQUni Sustainability team for their ‘Beyond 9 to 5 series.

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