5 Things not to throw on the compost heap & what to do with them instead
This is Part II of a blog I wrote a couple of weeks back about what foods not to throw into your urban compost heap. If you didn’t catch Part I, why not take a look at it here now before reading on.
Now that you know what’s not ideal for your urban compost heap, this blog will provide some handy tips and hints for what you can do with that organic waste rather than see it go straight to landfill.
As a general rule, it’s good to try and plan meals and only buy what you and your family will consume. This reduces your chances of excess waste from the outset. This is of course more easily said than done – I know I’m guilty of shopping on an empty stomach, for example, only to realize that my perishables are going to perish long before I can get my hands on them to cook.
In any case, even if you are the best meal planner out there, you are always going to have some waste to manage that’s not compatible with urban composting. I hope these tips help reduce some of that waste just a little further.
Meat & Dairy
Meat scraps make the perfect ingredient for broths and stocks. And bone broth is really in vogue right now. Join the throngs of wellness junkies and get into it! This recipe from epicurious is a real treat.
If you don’t have the time to dedicate to this kind of broth or your bones are more on the ‘scrappy’ side, a comforting stock is just as rewarding. For me, making stock opens up an opportunity to re-use a whole raft of veggie scraps – the only limit is your imagination really. I often stock-pile veggie scraps in my freezer for this task and throw everything on the stove top on a lazy Sunday afternoon for weeks’ worth of stock.
Got a dog, chickens, goats, hamsters? They might make great waste disposal units for your meat scraps and bones. A word of caution though, do some research into what meat scraps are appropriate for your particular type of pet. Not all bones are suitable to all pets so it’s best to seek expert advice before embarking on this one.
If you’ve got milk that’s close to going bad, try making your own yoghurt. Yoghurt is easy to make at home and as an added bonus it means you don’t need to buy it in disposable plastic containers. The Kitchn has a comprehensive recipe on how to do it, but there are plenty of recipes in the webosphere that are simple and effective.
There are so many great things you can do with citrus scraps that it’s hard to know where to begin. Household cleaning, body scrubs, cooking, preserving – the list goes on. In fact, I’ve written an entire blog about it, here.
And if that doesn’t exhaust your uses for excess piths and rinds, you can make your own vitamin C powder, deodorize your garbage bins and repel garden pests. Citrus truly is wonder waste! Celebrate it!
Onion, Garlic and Ginger
The best thing about the onion family is that if you collect your scraps correctly, you can regrow your plants making for a zero waste option.
To achieve this, you need to keep the root of your onions/shallots /leeks intact, ideally with an additional centimeter to support regrowth. Place the root down in a dish of water in the sunlight. Switch out the water every couple of days, sit back and watch it grow! Once it gets growing, you can transfer to an in-ground veggie patch or a container or just leave it as is.
Similarly, if your garlic cloves or ginger begins to sprout, take the opportunity to plant them in your garden. Plant them root down (or pointy end up) a thumbs length deep in the soil. You may get spotty results with supermarket-bought items, but worth giving it a try if the only alternative is landfill.
The great thing is, all of these veggies are suitable as container plants, so even if you have a small space, you can give these scraps new life. Ginger in particular is a great indoor plant – it doesn’t like frost and copes well in dabbled light.
Pet poo is the most difficult of items to manage on the waste front. It can contain nasty pathogens, so it’s not even safe to throw directly on the garden. These days, there is some innovative stuff being done to improve the pet waste situation, like compostable doggy waste bags, but that’s of little use if those bags are discarded to landfill.
Better are the flushable dogs waste bags that dissolve in water. It seems flushing pet poo is the most environmentally friendly avenue, with or without the flushable bags. Give it a try!