The problem with landfills is very real, but when the time comes to take action to do our part, we can easily be faced with several options without knowing which one best suits our situation.
This is why we are sharing some solutions that will allow you to determine, according to your needs, how you can reduce and recycle your organic waste.
Reduce Organic Waste
Let’s first address the issue of food waste. In Canada alone, the equivalent of $31 billion in food is thrown away each year.¹ In addition, 63% of the food residues that we throw in the trash or in the brown bin could have been eaten. To give you a better picture, this works out to the equivalent of $1,100 per year for the average household.²
It is therefore important to prioritize reduction at the source by reducing the amount of food thrown in the trash. How? Several options are possible:
- Plan your meals in advance;
- Make a grocery list and buy only the food you need;
- Find ingenious ideas for cooking leftovers (i.e. vegetable broths or soups);
- Freeze certain foods to keep them longer;
- And more!
Recycle Organic Waste
Once you’ve minimized the amount of waste thrown in the trash, you have to figure out how to recycle what’s left. Here are several solutions that can meet your needs taking into account your living environment, whether you live in the city, in the countryside, in a house or an apartment.
Compost is certainly the best-known way to recycle organic waste. It is a process of transforming organic matter using decomposing microorganisms.
Home composting itself brings together different options:
This involves placing most of your table waste (rich in nitrogen) in an external bin and adding twice the amount of structuring agent rich in carbon, for example dead leaves or coffee grounds. Please note that certain foods cannot be placed there, such as meat, for example.
Then the microorganisms will do their job for 9 to 12 months to turn your organic waste into compost. It is important to ensure that the right temperature, oxygen and humidity conditions are in place, which means stirring them regularly and watering as needed.³
Practiced indoors, this is a technique that uses red worms. In a plastic bin, you put damp shredded paper, garden soil and a good handful of worms. Like outdoor compost, this complex technique requires placing organic matter (except meat) in the right place as well as the worms in the right conditions. You will be able to harvest the compost within 3 to 6 months.
A lesser-known technique, bokashi consists of fermenting your organic waste without air. The process involves mixing starter (wheat impregnated with microorganisms) with your organic matter to ferment it tightly. After a few weeks, you will have a pre-compost that will need to be buried before it ripens and becomes compost. The bokashi allows you to deposit all types of organic waste, including meat.
Some municipalities also offer you the option of collecting your organic waste and ensuring their management, by carrying out anaerobic digestion or by guaranteeing their composting.
This can be done in two ways⁴:
1. By Voluntary Contribution
Depending on the city you live in, there are several drop-off points where you can bring your organic waste, such as outdoor community composting sites.
2. By Truck via Municipal Collection
If your municipality offers this service, it will also provide you with a brown bin in which you can put your organic waste. Just like collecting garbage or recycling, a truck will empty it every week.
Another effective solution is to get an automated device – also called an automatic composter – which crushes and dehydrates your organic matter, including meat, to transform them into a natural fertilizer that can be used in your outdoor plants, your vegetable garden or on your lawn. It is therefore important to bring a small nuance: the final material is not a compost, it is a fertilizer, because there is no presence of microorganisms.
These devices are odourless, quiet and easy to use; the cycle stops on its own after just a few hours, when the material is ready. You can therefore participate in the complete life cycle of a food, from its purchase at the grocery store, through its transformation, to finally deposit it directly in your vegetable garden. A good example is the Tero.
All of the proposed options are effective in diverting organic matter from landfills, where many greenhouse gases are released. For more details, see our blog post on this topic.
What is most important is first to reduce at the source by reducing food waste. Then, you have to choose an organic waste recycling solution adapted to your lifestyle.
Now, do you have any examples of your organic management to share with our community?