Food waste can make up a significant part of what your household sends to landfill, in Lethbridge it’s nearly 30% of household garbage! In the landfill, where decomposition happens anaerobically (without oxygen) it creates methane, a greenhouse gas more harmful than carbon dioxide. If you have the space and the ability to do so, starting a compost or worm farm in your backyard can allow you to create nutritious plant food while reducing your footprint in one hit!
To begin composting, you can create your own compost pile, buy a compost bin or compost tumbler, or a bokashi bin. This will depend on the space available at your house or apartment. Here is an article on the pros and cons of a compost bin versus a compost tumbler. If you purchase a bokashi bin you will still have to find somewhere to dig in the remaining pickled organic matter, so be aware of that when considering which method to select.
A worm bin is a container housing a colony of special types of worm. Worm bins can be kept indoors (with careful management) or out, and are ideal for households without a garden, as they produce only a small quantity of compost and a liquid, which forms a concentrated plant food. There are a variety of worm bins available for sale, complete with “worm starter kits”.Composting can go beyond your kitchen food waste. Practicing “grass-cycling” where grass clippings are left on your lawn after you mow will return important nutrients to your lawn and reduce the need for extra fertilizers. The City of Lethbridge also offers options to dispose of garden trimmings and yard waste (see the Waste Wizard for more info). Never throw your garden trimmings onto a roadside or natural area as many plants can grow from clippings and become invasive.
For further tips on how to start composting, we recommend checking out this video or others like it. For worm farming and making your own inexpensive worm farm you could try this article from City of Edmonton, this video or any of the many similar videos on the topic, and this video on maintaining your worm farm. When considering a worm farm, be sure to think about how you will care for your worms over the winter. The farms cannot stay outside during the winter as they will freeze, so they will need to be brought indoors.
With these resources, you can begin composting at home today – even if it’s a cold winter day. If you are waiting for your compost bin to arrive, you can start by setting aside your food scraps and keeping them in the freezer until you are able to start composting. By composting your leftover food scraps, you can dispose of them responsibly while avoiding creating greenhouse gases.