Composting 101

What, why and how to compost

Composting is the action of creating dark, sweet earth-smelling material from organic matter.

It is a natural process of transforming organic matter back into its original “building blocks”, which allows it to be used again by  organisms in the soil and plants.

Compost helps the soil by enriching it with nutrients and moisture. Better moisture retention results in less watering, conserving water and reducing runoff pollution into lakes and rivers. It also helps us divert our yard waste and kitchen food scraps from the landfills, instead, contributing towards the community gardens to grow food and flowers.

Photo by Norman Nack from Flickr

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Why should I participate? 

Compost is the most practical way to handling organic and yard waste. It is also cheaper than to pay for disposal services. Composting also helps with the soil in our gardens, maintaining a rich, biodiverse ecosystem that will nourish plants, as well as reduce runoff pollution into the rivers and seas.

 

How can I participate?

Easy peasy: if your waste is compostable (i.e., food or yard waste), just put it in the appropriate green bin, preferably after cut into smaller pieces to accelerate decomposition.

While paper and cardboard can be composted, they need to be shredded into smaller pieces to be processed.

Bokashi bins:

Bokashi means fermentation in Japanese, and is distinct type of composting that uses anaerobic fermentation (without oxygen). Bokashi allows the food-wastes to ferment without releasing methane in the air. You will know if the compost is working properly from the smell.

The Bokashi bins (Green) at Mediamatic are located in the Waste Sanctuary besides the restaurant kitchen, as well as next to the compost pile besides the Clean Lab.

  • The kitchen staff is okay with transferring their waste to the bokashi themselves on a daily basis
  • Keep adding food-scraps until full, and compress it down to avoid oxygen in the pile.
  • Mix the bokashi waste with ashes from the oven to counteract the acidity/ bad odours.
  • When one of the bokashi bins is full, wait at least one week (or more, if possible) before adding to the compost pile
  • Once the bokashi is ready to go into the compost. Dump it into the pile (using a shovel if necessary) and cover it with brown materials (leaves) or mix into the pile.

Good compost smells earthy, and sweet, sometimes sour like sauerkraut. Trust your smelling senses, and if it smells bad or rotten, sprinkle some ashes or newspaper on top.

What goes in?

- Any vegetables and fruit scraps

- Egg shells (crush them up)

- Food leftovers (sandwich, salad, pizza, yogurt...)

- Coffee grounds (including filter) and tea leaves (from office/bar)

- Paper boxes, newspapers, paper towels and any non-waxy paper

** Meats/bones are only allowed-in the bokashi bin, not into the compost pile (to avoid rodents)

What doesn't go in?

- No metals, plastics, glass, rubber-bands, cigarette butts (contain harmful chemicals)