Zero Waste Hacks: Compost

May 11, 2020BY Potato Head
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Turning your kitchen waste into compost is the best gift you can give your garden, your plants will thank you for this.



Composting your organic leftovers is a great way to give back to Mother Earth – quite literally. At Desa Potato Head, we separate the likes of cuttings, citrus rinds, coffee grounds, seashells, pineapple leaves and coconut shells for composting, which later go back into our gardens and help them flourish. Composting at home means creating a rich humus for your soil, bringing nutrients to your plants in an environment-friendly way, free of harmful chemicals. Composting also saves waste from ending up in landfills, in-turn protecting our wild spaces in nature.

What to Compost:
All compostable materials are either carbon- or nitrogen-based to varying degrees. The secret to a healthy compost pile is to maintain a working balance between these two elements.
– Carbon: Carbon-rich matter – such as branches, stems, dried leaves, peels, bits of wood, bark dust or sawdust pellets, shredded brown paper bags, corn stalks, coffee filters, coffee grounds, eggshells, peat moss, wood ash – gives compost its light, fluffy body.
– Nitrogen: Nitrogen- or protein-rich matter– manures, food scraps, green lawn clippings, kitchen waste, and green leaves – provides raw materials for making enzymes.

A healthy compost pile should have much more carbon than nitrogen. A simple rule of thumb is to use one-third green and two-thirds brown materials. The bulkiness of the brown materials allows oxygen to penetrate and nourish the organisms that reside there. Too much nitrogen makes for a dense, smelly, slowly decomposing anaerobic mass. Good composting hygiene means covering fresh nitrogen-rich material, which can release odours if exposed to open air, with carbon-rich material, which often exudes a fresh and earthy smell.

How to Compost:
1. Start your compost pile on bare earth. This allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost and be transported to your garden.
2. Lay carbon material (branches, stems, etc.) a few inches deep. This aids drainage and helps aerate the pile.
3. Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist (nitrogen) and dry (carbon). Moist ingredients are food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, etc. Dry materials are straw, leaves, sawdust pellets and wood ashes.
4. Add manure, green manure (clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, grass clippings) or any nitrogen source. This activates the compost pile and speeds the process along.
5. Keep compost moist. Water it occasionally, or let the rain do the job.
6. Cover with anything you have – wood, waterproof sheeting, carpet scraps. Covering helps retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost. Covering also prevents the compost from being over-watered by rain. The compost should be moist, but not soaked.
7. Turn. Every few weeks give the pile a quick turn with a shovel. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process to work, and turning “adds” oxygen. Once you’ve established your compost pile, add new materials by mixing them in, rather than by adding them in layers. Mixing, or turning, the compost pile is key to aerating the composting materials and speeding the process to completion.

About Sustainism Lab
Led by Potato Head’s Director of Sustainability Lauren Blasco, the Zero Waste Hacks are facilitated by our in-house Sustainism Lab team. 

Sustainism Lab is a research and design workshop located inside Desa Potato Head which is dedicated to finding innovative solutions to waste. It helps the Desa adhere to a zero-waste philosophy, and drives Potato Head towards becoming a circular brand where every element fits into the three ‘r’s of sustainability—reduce, reuse and recycle. The lab also functions as an inspirational and collaborative space for our physical and online audience, and our industry peers.

Support Bali’s community
Here’s how some of our friends in Bali are creating brightness on the island, and how you can support;

THANK ME LATER
Our favourite sustainable sunscreen producer has created a limited batch of anti-bacterial and anti-microbial hand sanitizers, powered by 70% ethyl alcohol and pure lemon essential oil.

SAVON STELLA
Jil Wong has created bamboo-charcoal and collagen soaps that are gentle enough to use on face and body. A percentage of every purchase is put towards food packs for local friends who have lost their jobs. Orders can be placed by shooting them a DM on their Instagram account.