Composting Chopsticks

The chopstick industry has taken a lot of of heat in recent years from environmental groups and the public at large in regards to their foresting practices, waste by-product and mass produced disposible products.

That raises the question as a consumer.. what can be done as a consumer to reduce the environmental impact of disposible chopsticks? The obvious answers are to reduce the quantity of chopsticks that you as an individual go through by using reusable chopsticks, however, for many people there will still be times here and there where you find yourself getting disposible chopsticks with your take away sushi. Seeing as this site is about composting, we’ll take a closer look at what you can do in those situations.

Generally, wooden chopsticks from the take-out restaurant end up in the trash, but they are wooden, so shouldn’t they be compostable? Well, yes they will break down, but if you are concerned about turnover rate with your home composter, you should keep in mind that chopsticks will compost much slower than traditional food scraps.

If your municipality has a curbside program which allows for separate pick up of organic products, it would be a good idea to leave the chopsticks for an industrial composting facility. The same goes for other wood products manufactured for the food industry such as; coffee stirrers, popsicle sticks and tooth picks.

If your property is large enough to allow for two seperate compost systems it may be a good idea to run one system composting strictly traditional organics for a quick turnover of quality soil and a second system that allows for slower break down time of products like chopsticks and wine corks. Just be sure not to leave out a decent amount of kitchen scraps, lawn trimmings and water as required.

This article should help in those cases when you find yourself using disposable chopsticks, but, it should also act as a remind to do your part in helping to reduce the use of disposable chopsticks. A small investment in reusable chopsticks for the home can go a long way and if you’d like to make an extra step in helping the environment, reusable travel chopsticks are now on the market for sushi lovers on the go.

Composting Keurig Coffee Pods

K-cup ready for composting
Opened Keurig K-cup
Keurig K-cups are made up of plastic, foil, paper and coffee grounds. Many coffee drinkers out there find it convenient to pull out the punctured cups and toss them in the garbage before moving on with their morning and enjoying their single serve coffee. For those out there who still want to have somewhat of an environmental conscience while still going the single cup coffee route, it’s important to recognize two parts of that 4 ingredient cup that can be easily composted.

Of course we’re talking about the coffee grounds and the paper filter hidden inside the aluminum foil and plastic cup. Now you do need to do a bit of work before you can get the filter and the coffee out of the cup, but I’m sure you can figure it out. Peel back the foil, shake the coffee grounds into your compost bin, use your fingers or a pairing knife (with adult supervision, if you are a child coffee drinker) and get that paper filter out of there!

The coffee and paper filter will be great for your compost. It should go without saying that the plastic cup and aluminum foil cover can’t be composted. The foil cover should be recyclable if tossed into your municipal recycling stream. The mysterious plastic that the cup is made out of  is another story. It will depend on what types of plastics can be handled by your local recycle centres.

Long before getting to recycling though we should be looking at re-using and some of those k-cups can come in handy for the avid composter/gardener. They are a good little cup for starting out seedlings in before having to transplant them to larger containers. After being used they’ll have a puncture hole already built in for drainage so they carry on their convenience factor in their second life.

If you aren’t a regular reader of this site, you may have come through google by searching for what to do with your keurig cups and may not be too familiar with composting. If that’s the case, don’t be daunted by the task of composting. Although, there is a science to it it certainly doesn’t have to be followed to a T. It can also be scaled to suit your space and purposes. If you aren’t working with an actual compost bin, but have a small garden, simply sprinkling the coffee grounds around your garden can give your plants a boost and keep that much extra Keurig waste out of the landfills.

Beer And Wine In The Compost

Beer and Wine in the Compost
Yes, beer and wine can be composted!

Is beer good for the compost?

Actually yes, both beer and wine can be poured onto your compost heap and bring beneficial results.

Of course you don’t want to dump the beer that has been sitting in the fridge for a while on the compost as there are better uses for those beers (like drinking or cooking.. beer doesn’t really go bad, but the taste may change).  It’s the already opened cans of beer and bottles of wine that you should be adding to the compost.

Alcoholic drinks that were only half finished from the party the night before shouldn’t be drank the next day but your compost pile will benefit from the addition of those beverages. They provide a good source of nitrogen and the beneficial bacteria will love the yeast from the beer.

You do need to remember to manage the moisture content of your compost when adding beer and wine. If your compost is already dry, great! You are also saving water by adding the beer and wine. A compost that doesn’t need any additional moisture will need to be compensated with dry products like paper, cardboard and dried leaves to compensate for the extra liquid.

Remember next time you have have drank beers or wine that just doesn’t taste great anymore that your compost will thank you for the addition. If you really don’t want the extra liquid in your compost give your plants or lawn a drink! Environmental wise the worst option is to pour them down the drain, especially in areas that make use of sewage treatment plants. There is no need to treat excess beer and wine with chemicals, so, compost it!

 

Eliminate Compost Smell

Building a compost pile the old school way involves throwing scraps in a heap and letting them slowly rot, but, the result of this type of composting is a terrible odour. There are steps that should be followed to eliminate compost odours and the involve inparticular carbon and oxygen.

In most cases it’s easy to come up with greens for your compost from kitchen scraps and yard trimmings, but, it’s very important to remember to supply your compost with an equal if not slightly higher level of brown material. The brown material supplies carbon that the bacteria that breaks down your compost needs to do it’s work.

Though you may not always think of composting these items, they can be found all around your home and are often sent out with the recycling. Newspaper torn into about 1 inch strips are a great source of brown compost material. Other everyday sources include toilet paper/paper towel rolls, paper egg cartons, cardboard boxes, napkins, dried grass clippings and fallen leaves.

The other important piece of composting when thinking about eliminating odour is to ensure your compost has enough oxygen. This is one of the reasons your compost should be turned on a regular schedule. Turning the compost, although necessary can miss the compacted material at the bottom of the compost. Have a pole or a straight stick on hand to poke holes through to the bottom of your compost pile to allow air to circulate. These holes should be made at least every two weeks.

Taking these steps will help to greatly decrease the smell of composting materials. Eliminating these smells in areas that are home to bears is especially important. If bears could be a problem in your area check with your municipal government to see if there are any by-laws that cover how you are allowed to compost in your area.

What Are Compost Tumblers?

Coconut fibre and coconut shells can be used in your backyard compost.

Generally with a coconut the meat and the milk of the coconut will be used as food, but you will be left with a lot of excess waste.

As you can imagine the coconut core and shell doesn’t break down very easily, so you will want to try to break up the coconut into smaller pieces before putting it into your compost bin.

Be careful when breaking up the coconut, it’s not worth hurting yourself over as even if left whole the coconut will eventually breakdown, it will just take more time. Try placing the coconut pieces in a sturdy bag and giving it a few whacks with a hammer, but please be careful.  The smaller pieces will have an easier time composting into soil.

The fibre of the coconut will help retain water in the compost pile and when broken down will add to nutrient rich soil.

If you don’t use the coconut milk you can pour it onto the top of the compost, but drinking the milk is a tastier option.

Remember, coconut milk is not the same as the water found in the middle of the coconut. That water can be used in a few different ways including being added to the compost. The milk is squeezed out of the meat of the coconut.