On Compost and the like

I’ve bought a new gadget. Well it isn’t strictly a gadget I suppose, if gadgets are things with buttons and batteries or electrical connectors. This is very much a bucket. It’s succinctly named the Bokashi Kitchen Waste Compost Bucket and of course it was sourced by my darling husband.

In our house text input comes via Whizz. He does all the reading – well most of it anyway – while I do much of the output i.e. turning it into burble and passing it on through, among other things, this blog. It’s a good example of teamwork if we can only find the time to talk to each other!

Anyway, this Bokashi thingamajig is the answer to all smelly bin problems because it enables one to turn all malodourous kitchen waste into compost. As well as the usual fruit and veg, it will take cat food, bones, meat, stale bread and cakes, anything, although I haven’t tried cat poo. On top of each layer goes a sprinkling of special bran containing micro organisms, and a derivative from organic sugar to activate them.

The mixture ferments and gives off a liquid by-product that can be diluted for cleaning, clearing drains and feeding the plants. The rest of the bulk is left for 2 weeks in the bucket after which it can be spread onto the garden or put straight into the compost heap.

So far it smells far sweeter than the compost bucket and attracts no fruit flies.

I was worried about the extra output of methane as discussed in my blog On Recycling: http://www.suenicholls.com/2005/06/01/on-recycling/#more-50 and the subsequent discovery that composting does not produce large quantities of the gas unless it is produced anaerobically, as it would be in landfill where it is buried far under the ground. The bucket is pretty anaerobic but I was delighted to find that it ferments the matter within and so does not produce unacceptable amounts of methane.

It seems like the perfect answer but I’ll let you know if I find any problems with it.

The combination of recycling and Bokashi-ing means that the contents of the rubbish bin are only non food packaging. This comprises mainly: bubble wrap, plastic packaging and bags that have contained catalogues – a practise that irritates me unbelievably. It’s bad enough being bombarded by literature trying to sell you things you neither need nor want but to encase the booklet in polythene is infuriating.

I was intrigued today to note that The Week – not junk mail but subscribed to – was in a bag that informed me that it was ‘Made from oxo degradable plastic. Having asked the font of all knowledge what this meant and received a reply indicating bafflement I took to the WWW while The Font joked ‘Let’s take stock shall we?’ I discovered that the product is truly biodegradable plastic. The only problem is that the crops needed to produce it for all our needs would disproportionately add to our emissions of greenhouse gases. Never the less I was delighted to discover that I could put the wrapping into the compost heap with no adverse effects to flora or fauna.

I turned out the bin but could find no other packaging using the same type of plastic; shame.

It will be interesting to see how much plastic we throw away in a week. It’s hard to give it up completely. Bread rolls, for instance: I try and make them but Mavis and Whizz both prefer shop bought burger buns and when did you last see those sold loose. I quite understand why; even the family baker wants to keep them fresh until the end of the day. Grapes are always sold in a little bag as are lettuce and, usually, celery. Then there’s the cat litter; I should be reluctant to do away with the litter tray liners but I can however now give up my plastic bin liners.

The biggest contributor is definitely the post. We do order quite a bit via the internet and every delivery must be packaged. Apart from the number of cardboard boxes we flatten there is also a good deal of expanded polystyrene and polythene. The question is, which should I choose, to go to the shops and use petrol or continue with the very convenient practise of internet shopping? As I write I know the answer. To use my own criteria to decide i.e. 1. support local businesses 2.avoid landfill, I must opt out of all junk mail and take to the road, in a very economical car!

As I have already reported I am keeping an hour by hour record of my activities so that I can try and give up some more unnecessary ones and replace them with fulfilling pastimes such as writing. Unfortunately the very act of writing seems to give rise to more tasks! hey ho.

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