Tips for reducing waste

Each year Australians send four millions tonnes – or $8 billion worth – of food to landfill, enough to fill 450,000 garbage trucks.

Visit the Foodwise website for recipe ideas and tips for reducing the amount of food thrown away.

You can also reduce waste by choosing foods with less packaging.

Compost garden and food waste at home

It is estimated that garden and food waste accounts for more than 50 per cent of household waste. Mulching and composting can make a significant difference in reducing waste.

You can either make your own compost heap in a shady part of your garden or use a compost bin.

Items that can be composted include:

  • vegetable and fruit peelings
  • tea bags and coffee grinds
  • vacuum cleaner dust
  • small prunings, leaves and grass clippings
  • straw and sawdust
  • flowers
  • wood ash
  • shredded paper and cardboard
  • used potting mix

The compost should be added in layers, with a layer of food scraps ideally covered with a layer of grass clippings or leaves.

The compost needs moisture and air to decompose effectively. Turn it regularly and make sure it is kept reasonably moist but not waterlogged.

Items not suitable for composting includes:

  • meat and bones
  • dairy products
  • large prunings
  • pet droppings
  • weeds with seeds
  • bleached paper or magazines

Worm farms

A worm farm should be placed in a cool and shady part of the garden.

The worms need:

  • a dark, moist, but not waterlogged, environment
  • any compostable food items to be shredded or cut into smaller pieces to allow the worms to efficiently decompose them
  • neutral acidity with a pH level kept around 7 (this pH level can usually be achieved by ensuring a layer of green waste or moist paper or cardboard is regularly added with the food waste, ensure that paper waste is not bleached or contaminated with chemicals)

Most hardware stores and garden centres sell worm farms and worms and can give you advice about how to look after them.

Worm castings also provide an excellent soil conditioner for your garden.