More than a third of the average household waste is food scraps. This is a shocking statistic and has lead many individuals and cities to look at ways to turn this valuable ‘waste’ into usable soils. So, what are our options?
1. Green bin/organic collection
Some cities have started to introduce food scrap collection programs. Metro Vancouver took it a step further and introduced a ban on all organic materials in the garbage from Jan 1 2015. This is great but not everyone has access to an organic collection system. Also, if you’ve bought the resulting compost the quality can be fairly poor and often contaminated with plastics. Plus, there is something wrong about buying back the waste that we were so eager to throw out in our green bin. Surely there is a better option than giving our food scraps away in the first place….
2. ‘Traditional’ composting
Composting of household food scraps and garden waste seems like a great way to create high quality homegrown compost, in theory….
I would guess that most people reading this have tried ‘traditional composting’ at one time or another. My experience was a black bin that I religiously filled with food scraps and garden waste but which never seemed to harvest anything other than some very putrid swamp-like mush. Popular with the local rodents, yes! Useful for my garden… no! OK, I know that some people have fantastic compost systems but I also know a lot of others who share my lack of composting prowess! And this is where the third option comes in…..
3. Bokashi composting
Bokashi composting uses ‘good bacteria’ to ferment (or pickle) food scraps in around 2 weeks. The resulting ‘pre-compost’ can simply be buried in a trench in your garden and is ready for planting within another 2-4 weeks.
The process is anaerobic which has lots of advantages
- no putrid smell (instead it just has a sour pickle-like odor)
- it doesn’t attract pests
- no need to turn and mix the material (in a traditional compost pile it is important to regularly aerate the system and that means a lot of mixing and turning. For successful bokashi you need to exclude air so just seal up your bin and sit back!)
- minimal greenhouse gases (a lot of the carbon in a traditional compost heap is lost to the atmosphere through CO2 and methane (an even more potent greenhouse gas))
Bokashi composting provides a simple, effective system for everyone to use their own food scraps to make healthy soil and to grow healthy food.