Home & Lifestyle

FOOD WASTE AVOIDANCE Q&A

Sarah and Gabby from Inner West Council are joining Marrickville Metro to help our community learn about how we can avoid excess food waste this Christmas and beyond. We wanted to ask Sarah and Gabby some questions to really sink our teeth into how we can all roll up our sleeves and do better to reduce landfill.

How long have you been in the industry and do you find the community wants to do more when it comes to food waste avoidance?

I’ve been in the Organics role at Council for a little over a year now. Before Council my work centred around growing food and composting in primary schools, businesses, charities and homes. I find people are really interested in reducing the amount of food scraps in their red lid bin. People in our area are also really interested in saving money which is what avoiding food waste will do.

What are the most common items that go to waste?​

People tend to throw out a lot of fruit and vegetables, mostly because they don’t get around to using them in time. Bread and pasta are also commonly wasted. This is usually because too much has been bought or cooked

What’s the first step I need to take if I haven’t composted before?

If you’ve never composted, the first step is to decide whether a compost bin or worm farm would suit your household better. If you have limited space and no garden then a worm farm may be a better fit. If you have a garden or a large household, a compost bin may be the right choice.

If someone has a compost bin at home, there is also uncertaintity about how I organise it and what I can compost? Can you help?

Basically anything that was once alive can be composted however in a home composting system it’s best to stick to fruit and vegetable scraps. Avoid putting in meat, breads, pastas and dairy. Also avoid anything oily. In a worm farm you also need to avoid things like onion, garlic, chilli and citrus. Positioning a compost bin depends on the type of bin but usually you want to position a bin on open ground (not concrete or paving) and in a convenient location.

How do I get my hands on a compost bin and worm farm?

If you are an Inner West Council resident you can purchase a subsidised worm farm or compost bin through Compost Revolution. If you live in an apartment and are willing to compost with other households in your block you may be eligible for the Compost Collective. There is more information about composting, worm farming and the Compost Collective here.

I’m not much of a green thumb but would you suggest donating my compost to my neighbours gardens? What do you need to add to make it work on soil? 

Compost can improve any soil. It doesn’t have to be used on vegetable gardens, it can be used on ornamental or native gardens. It can even be spread over grass. Adding compost to soil will improve the water holding ability of the soil as well as the nutrient content. Finished compost is ready to use and best kept moist. It can be used as a potting mix, added to the top of gardens or dug in. If you are using compost in an area where it might dry out then it’s best to add a mulch on top.