The effect of our changing climate is evident through the ongoing occurrence of climatic weather patterns that continue to increase global temperatures across the world. Australia has experienced the impact of this through increased droughts, bushfires, and severe rainfall in recent years.
As a community, every household can help reduce the emission of greenhouse gas simply by improving on how we manage our food and garden waste at home. This includes avoiding the amount of food we waste by using our leftovers and not disposing of valuable organic material, such as; grass clippings, leaves, fruit and vegetable scraps, meat and bones in our general waste (red lid) bin. Organic waste collected either by our councils or in our home compost and worm farms can be recycled and converted into compost and used in our home gardens, community and local farms, parks or sports fields.
The benefits of composted organic material help our environment, as it:
• Reduces the amount of organic waste that goes to landfill, which when disposed to landfill breaks down anaerobically and releases methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential around 28 times that of carbon dioxide over a 100 year period.
• Improves drainage and aeration in the soil.
• Produces a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
• Provides essential nutrients for plant growth.
• Retains soil moisture and reduces plant diseases/pests.
• Reduces heat island effect in urban areas.
Returning nutrients back to the soil through composting it improves plant health and promotes biodiversity. If we reduce and recycle waste, we can work to reduce the impacts of our changing climate.
“As we all know we get the majority of our nutrients from plants that are grown, harvested, prepared and eaten to sustain our lifestyle, health and well-being. However, not all food grown is fully consumed and a large amount of food and nutrient-rich scraps are wasted in landfills. Health-giving nutrients in the food waste are then lost forever”, says Eric Love, Chairman of the Centre for Organic Research & Education (CORE). “As if this is not enough, food waste in landfill is also causing significant environmental problems such as greenhouse gas evapotranspiration and hazardous toxic leachates as the food waste liquifies during decomposition in the landfill.”
“As a community, we need to stop this by recovering the wasted nutrients lost in our waste, and recycling them for our beneficial use”, continues Eric Love. “Harnessing existing community support we can all make a significant difference by participating in actions that avoid and reduce food waste, participate in Food Organics and Garden Organics recovery systems, referred to as ‘FOGO’. The cool thing is that compost made from these wastes adds valuable nutrients to the soil and is good news for healthy food, future water supplies, environmental well-being and human resilience.
“Governments at all levels in Australia and elsewhere are acutely conscious of the need to reduce food waste and are investing in a range of initiatives to improve how we manage organic materials including rolling out kerbside food waste collection and recovery systems to accompany existing garden waste collection. Let’s get it done!”, concludes Eric Love.
May 7th to 13th marks International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) in Australia. This is a week during which Australians are encouraged to promote the importance and benefits of composting in their local communities. CORE, a not-for-profit charity has been championing this international awareness campaign exclusively in Australia for 18 years. ICAW has contributed to reducing organic waste going to landfill and at the same time improving biodiversity in our soils and building up its resilience to extreme weather events.
Platinum sponsors of this year’s campaign are the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and Penrith City Council, Gold sponsor is the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Bronze sponsors are Ku-ring-gai Council and National Circuit.