Monday, October 4, 2010

How much food do you waste?

Did you know that Australian's waste about $5.2 billion worth of food in a year? That's more than we spend on electronic equipment such as our much loved flat screen tv's! Aside from the obvious environmental impact this has, think how much fuller our hip pockets would be if we ate what we grew and purchased! Of course, there is also the third world to consider. I've grown up with my grandmother telling me to, 'think of all the starving children in Kampuchea', as I refused to eat what was given to me. Funnily enough, I also remind my own kids of the plight of Africa's children when won't eat their dinner! I've always felt guilty throwing food away.

However, these days I can safely say that my family wastes very, very little when it comes to food. I know this because we use a bokashi bin, and our food waste is in my face on a daily basis. A bokashi bin is the perfect solution for those that want to compost but have no idea where to start. I've been using mine for about three years and can't sing it's praises highly enough.

For me it has a three-fold effect. The first is that I can monitor our food waste. I have a plastic lidded container on the sink and all food waste, including tea bags, egg shells, citrus and meat, go into it. My container is roughly the size of a large loaf of bread and takes about two days, give or take, for me to fill. Once it's full, it gets tipped into the bokashi, sprinkled with the special bokashi mix, and left to ferment.

The second of the three-fold effect is that it has reduced our household waste in general. Our green bin is only ever half full. This makes me feel good! Actually, on that thought, isn't it interesting that the recycling bin is only emptied once a fortnight, and the rubbish bins are emptied once a week? I wonder if we'll ever get to a point where it's the other way round? Hmmmm...

Lastly, the bokashi gives me the best fertiliser! The bokashi mix ferments the food waste rather than breaks it down, and the result of this is some rather smelly liquor, that we like to call 'liquid gold'. We 'juice' our unit at least twice a week and always have an ample supply of fertiliser, that is quite simply mixed one part to a hundred with water, and poured over the garden. When the bokashi is full, it needs to sit for a couple of weeks to ferment entirely (this is where two bins are ideal - one to use, and one to ferment) and then the contents are buried in the garden, where it eventually breaks down into beautiful compost.

There was a point in time where local councils were offering rebates for bokashi bins and other compost containers. If you are interested in purchasing one - and they are now available at Bunnings - keep your receipt and contact your local council. You never know, they might just give you back some money!

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