So sorry I have been MIA, but I have been flat out making all our gorgeous sustainable products to restock the online store. In this post I thought that I would go into more detail about our backyard setup, this includes how we limit the amount of waste that will leave our home. In Part 1, I went into a lot of detail on our recycling, composting and waste management and how to limit your use of plastics in the home. Today we are going to step outside and take a look at some of the things you can do to manage your waste at home, and minimise your dependence on rubbish removal and landfill.
A question that I hear a lot is, “ why worry about limiting the waste that leaves my house, the council composts most of it anyway?” Yes, this is correct, the councils are doing a wonderful job, but if you can minimise the waste that leaves your property you are supporting a more sustainable way of life and are lessening the impact on an already over burdened infrastructure, and if you are truly dedicated to living more sustainably then you will always be striving to have as little impact in all things as possible.
One of the easiest things we can all do is set up a worm farm, they are relatively inexpensive and do not need a lot of space, but are a great way to limit the food waste that leaves your house. Worm farms are amazing, and you will be surprised just how much of your food scraps can be placed in them, and the compost tea, or worm wee, as we like to call it is one of the best liquid fertiliser that you can get. However, there are a few simple rules that you may want to follow. Most fruit and vegetable scraps can be placed into your worm farm I even put my kombucha scobys in, but I would suggest that you try not to add onion and avocado skins and large hard seeds like those found in stone fruit, also limit the amount of citrus that you place in them and never ever put meat or processed foods in them. You will find that the worms just tend to leave these and they often cause problems later on.
I also suggest that you place your worm farm in a shady area, especially during summer as the worms are very sensitive to hot and dry conditions. We like to drain the worm wee regularly, it is actually so concentrated that we dilute it before using on the garden beds, potted plants and even the lawns. I have found that it is one of the best fertilisers to use on all of our native plants, they thrive on it and it never burns them. Worm castings, is the solid matter that falls to the second bottom tray of the worm farm and is an awesome solid fertiliser, we find it is perfect for spreading and raking into the lawn at the beginning of spring. These all natural fertilisers ensure that you will not need to buy or introduce outside compounds or chemicals to your ground and soils, helping you to maintain a tox free environment around your home.
If you have the space, another backyard option to help reduce the amount of rubbish that leaves your property is to build a compost pit. We have a three bay composting pit, we have found this is the most efficient and easiest to use, but if you are limited by space then two or one bay is fine. Or there are a lot of commercially made composting setups available, we have never used one of these so I can not recommend or advice you on the use of them. We have always built our own from old wooden pallets, which you can find on gumtree or marketplace for free, you usually only have to be able to pick them up. One tip I would give you, is to try to find hardwood pallets as they will last infinitely longer then the softer woods.
If you are going to set up a composting pit then another thing you may want to consider purchasing is a mulcher, we found one for sale on gumtree for $30 and it is still going strong. We do have quite an established native garden with trees and shrubs, but if your garden is smaller you may find that it is unnecessary. Your compost pit can take all your lawn clippings and garden rubbish as well as any other organic kitchen and house rubbish that does not go into your worm farm, like the avocado skins, citrus and onion peels, tea leaves and tea bags, shredded paper and even eggshells (I collect my eggshells and zap in the microwave and then blend them to powder before adding to the compost). I will often have a small bucket of eggshells under the sink to break up finely and place around seedlings in the garden if I have a problem with snails and slugs.
I will quickly explain why we consider a three bay compost pit to be the easiest and most efficient for us. You can start filling the first bay, just throwing everything in on top until it is full, when it is full and we need to add more than we fork it into the second bay, this way we are turning and aerating it and what was at the bottom is now on top. This procedure repeats, the second bay is forked into the third and the first into the second, until all the bays are full, at this point you should have beautiful dark rich compost in the third bay ready to use in your gardens and on your lawns.
The next step is to have chickens free ranging in your yard, chickens will eat just about anything, we do not feed ours any scraps that contain avocado, as this is toxic to them, or egg or chicken, however they will eat all other scraps and will pick bones clean better than any dog. The straw and droppings from their hutches are added to the compost pit as well, so the cycle continues. I have talked about keeping chickens in your backyard in a previous post, so if you would like a little more information about the rewards of keeping chickens then please go check it out.
These are some of the things that we have introduced into our lives to reduce our environmental impact and to continue our move towards living more sustainably. I hope that we have been able to inspire you to try to live more environmentally aware and to try to reduce your own impact by managing your own waste. But, I cannot emphasis this enough, aiming to reduce what you consume is the first step, and all steps after this become a lot easier. Have fun out there and enjoy the outdoors in your backyard and garden, because this is why we do it and it is all worth it.