How to Compost and Reduce Waste

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Since The City of Toronto is week three into a city workers strike that includes garbage collection, it appears (see above) to be a very good time to reintroduce some resources on small space composting.

One sure-fire, easy way to compost that I haven’t included here is to dig a hole. Yes, like the infomercials say, It is that easy! Dig a deep hole, put the scraps into the hole and cover it over. Done. Dig a really deep hole if you plan to bury crab and shrimp shells, fish parts, or anything that might attract vermin. Your plants will love it!

In lieu of digging a hole, I present to you these other very viable options:

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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13 thoughts on “How to Compost and Reduce Waste

  1. What I find so interesting about this strike is just how much garbage people are throwing out. Between composting and recycling, I only have half a small bag of garbage after nearly three weeks of the strike. Sure the recycling is a bit out of control, but at least I can keep it in the house ’cause it doesn’t stink.
    Why do people have so much stuff to throw out? And why does poor old Christie Pits have to suffer so much!
    Really, it is the Community Centres being closed down that is really hurting me …

  2. Tammigail, we have so much stuff to throw out because stuff is designed to be thrown out. :-)

    as simple as that.

    I came across this really interesting 20-min documentary called “The Story of Stuff”. It’s really well made in terms of both researched material as well as the style used to present the info.

    Where I live, fortunately more than 60% of our waste is biodegradable (still). Unfortunately, no one’s composting! We have some really bad practices as far as our waste goes, both by people and our municipalities.

  3. Biked along the lakeshore yesterday and it was pretty stinky. Can u believe they are piling it along the lake of all places? Thanks for the list of ‘compostables’ (is that a word? lol.).

  4. Re: Urban Composting…This is similar to what I did for years. A huge time and effort saver is to have two bins that nest within each other. Every other day dump one into the other. This will cut your compost time from 6 months to 3 weeks (seriously).
    You should also mention tumbler composters (see I use one now and it is very effective (2 week compost). I now compost meat scraps because nothing can get in there, and they break down so fast they don’t smell. The closed nature also means more attention to moisture – it builds up fast. It is a bit bulky, but I found room for it in a dark corner of the rooftop.

  5. I live in a remote coastal community where garbage has always been an issue – we have to pay extra to ship the bins out on a ferry & during the summer, the bin is always full & people (tourists) don’t know how to handle their garbage. I do agree that we live in a society that encourages ‘disposable’ items so it’s hard to change that attitude.

    Many of us here compost, but we need to keep in mind that we live with bears, so caution & care & education is required. I have a metal compost tumbler that works very well & is bear-proof (so far – knock on wood!).

    Just recently the Regional District has brought in a ‘recycling’ depot & larger garbage dumpster plus a metal drop-off site. The unfortunate aspect to this is that it is located across the harbour so one half of the community (where most of the large fishing lodges & resorts are located) find it difficult to run their garbage & recyclables across the water during the busy summer season.

    While dealing with garbage is an inconvenience, I wish more people would consider how much they will contribute when they purchase items from the store. If we refuse to purchase items that are covered in plastics, or speak up to manufacturers, maybe we could start reducing what we have to deal with!

  6. Ciao Gayla-

    This is so hilarious. I got Duane a drill for his birthday and he spent the day building a composter. He’d wanted to build one before because we also have one of those useless plastic composters. It’s been so hard for him to get in there and turn the stuff over because of the narrow opening in the top. He dismantled an old headboard the former house owners left in the garage and some old trellis his mother gave him. The finished composter is unbelievably roomy, so being the practical person I am, I can’t wait to dump all of the bins of yard waste into it and make more soil!

  7. Please, please please consider investigating bokashi composting. I’ll even send you a kit if you like, on my dime.

    This is a fantastic opportunity for city-folk to compost, and, if they don’t use it, to give the stuff to people who will do something with it.

    It doesn’t stink or draw flies in the kitchen even in a full 5 gallon bucket, and it breaks down much faster than “regular” compost. Please check it out, and let me know I can convince you to try it.

  8. We haven’t had much success with the cone or the usual plastic composters, mainly because they’re too difficult to turn over the compost within.

    My mom bought the spinning type through Lee Valley. It was expensive, but she’s rather spend her time gardening than making a composter! She spins it everyday and collects the “tea” to fertilize her flower beds.

    She also has neighbourhood rabbits, raccoons, teenagers and squirrels and none of them have tipped or accessed it.

  9. My vermi bin is reducing my waste too – I’m so glad I got it before the strike started!

    I find that keeping food waste in the freezer is helpful. I keep my ‘worm food’ frozen until it’s time to feed the squirmies, and until the strike is over I’m keeping what little meat waste I have (scraps, bones, etc) frozen as well.

    I’ve been thinking of composting some large pieces of cardboard that’s piled up. Does it help to soak it before adding it to the bin? It’s pretty thick and will be hard to cut small.

  10. Do you have a composting basics post? I compost in one of the big black bins and it didn’t work out too well last year. Things just didn’t break down. I am not sure what I am doing wrong.

  11. KT: The cardboard is fine in a regular composter but will be difficult for the worms. You’d definitely have to cut/tear it up into really little pieces. And I agree that soaking would help… and make easier work of tearing it up, too.

    Kimberly: Elsewhere in print, but there isn’t an absolute basics on the site. Those black bins are not easy. They fall apart and drive me crazy.

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