Composting and Using the Brown Bin

Has Karen's trip to the composters inspired you to rethink some habits? Let us help you make some positive changes...

One of the benefits of GIYing is the reduction in food waste associated with it. If you go to the effort of growing food you’re unlikely to throw it out, and growers tend to have an eye for spotting anything that could go on the compost heap.

Cost of Food Waste

But food waste in general is a really serious problem in Ireland and it costs Irish households,on average, €700 each year. That’s money we could all think of a better use for than throwing in the bin.

The impact on the environment is also really significant. A huge amount of our wasted food ends up in landfill where it creates harmful gas emissions that pollute our atmosphere. 

Instead, it can all be recycled into compost which we can use to grow lovely fruit and vegetables! We’re really serious about reducing food waste in GIY and we’re delighted that stopfoodwaste.ie have come on board as one of the sponsors of our TV show, GROW COOK EAT.

How to Reduce Food Waste

In the Supermarket 

Most food waste is caused by us buying too much food or preparing too much. By attempting to reduce the amount of food you buy to begin with you can save yourself both money and time in the supermarket or in the kitchen. Plan your shop based on what you really eat (not what you wished you ate, put down that bag of imported spinach) and the time you have to prepare meals. Be realistic.

In the Kitchen 

The next problem is storage, keep perishables where you can see them so you use them before they go off. Keep bread wrapped up well and in a bread bin. And no matter what the weather forecast, stockpiling sliced pans is NOT the answer.

Use your fridge and freezer wisely and only buy what you can store in them, fruit and veg in a cupboard can go off in two days in summer. Try preparing your food as soon as you get it home, have your veggies washed, your meat chopped, seasoned and portioned and freeze what you won’t use immediately. You’ll save time during the week when preparing meals too.

Compost at Home

With your (hopefully reduced) food waste, consider composting at home, at a basic level you can make compost by putting all your compostables in a big pile and letting the elements do the rest. If you find that a bit stomach churning, or your neighbours complain about the whiff invest in compost bin, sometimes available at a reduced rate from your local authority.

What can you compost?

If it was once alive and now dead, it can be composted. However! Animal parts will absolutely stink and attract rats, birds and flies. So we highly recommend a vegetarian diet for the domestic compost heap. But that still includes; 

  • Tea bags
  • Fruit and veg, cooked or raw
  • Grass and leaves and general garden waste (unless it’s diseased)
  • Cardboards and undyed paper in pieces
  • Kitchen roll

What can’t be composted at home;

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dairy products
  • Oil, fat and grease
  • Poop (pet poop, we presume)
  • Nappies
  • Textiles

Use Your Brown Bin

If you don’t need compost for your own garden, or if you’re not composting your food waste at the moment put it in your BROWN bin for collection!

What can go in the Brown Bin?

  • Raw or cooked food
  • Meat, poultry & fish, including bones
  • Leftover food from your plate & dishes
  • Fruit & vegetables
  • Tea bags, coffee grinds & paper filters
  • Breads, cakes & biscuits
  • Rice, pasta & cereals
  • Dairy products (cheese, butter, yoghurt)
  • Soups & sauces
  • Eggs, egg shells & cardboard egg boxes
  • Food soiled paper napkins, paper towels & pizza boxes
  • Newspaper
  • Out of date food with packaging removed (no glass/plastic)
  • Grass clippings and small twigs 

What CANT go in the Brown Bin?

  • Plastic bags/bottles
  • Packaging of any sort
  • Nappies
  • Glass
  • Stones/soil
  • Metal cans/wire
  • Cardboard
  • Ashes, coal or cinders
  • Pet poop or litter
  • Cooking oils

Now, go forth and dispose responsibly!