Nicola & Pete plus daughters Lola, now 9 and Nell, now 7, spent last year exploring Britain in a carbon-light manner. Our spring 2008 challenge is to give up waste from 24 March to 24 April. Most posts are by Nicola (as it was her silly idea). This is how it’s going:
We’ve been visiting Norfolk a lot recently and are appalled by how much we end up chucking out. It’s so easy to deal with waste in your own home (well, easier), but here in Norfolk Granny Sheila and Grandad didn’t even have a compost bin.
Fortunately the county council is obliged to tackle this (and offer at least two types of material to be recycled by 2010 thanks to a law introduced with the help of Friends of the Earth (the Waste Reduction Act).
Because this collection takes a lot of potential rubbish that could be dumped into landfill (or burnt at one of those dodgy heat and power incinerators) many councils are offering far better recycling opportunities each year. After a tiny bit of fretting I found that for just #10, I could order a big compost bin over the phone that would be delivered to the Norfolk garden.
The compost bin arrived within a fortnight, and after just four days of use I was amazed by how much stuff can be turned into something as useful as gardeners’ gold. Into the bin (now firmly fixed because it’s windy in Norfolk, see pic) has gone all the stuff that would have had to be chucked out - the painted egg shells we decorated for Easter Sunday; all our veggie tops and tails; coffee grinds; trimmed plants; some screwed up bits of greasy newspaper (used to draw out damp from the kids’ soggy wellies) and a handful of leaves that were lurking by the back door.
Then I splashed out on a 50p bag of horse manure, bought from a nearby pony owner, to use as an accelarator.
Compost isn’t that easy to make in a plastic bin. Pete and I got into huge muddles in 2001 when we put the bin too close to our kitchen window forgetting that this would make us intimately acquainted with fruit flies. He details our various dastardly methods of catching fruit flies with real ale, etc, in his latest kiss and tell book, There’s a Hippo In My Cistern (Collins, out June 2008).
Not surprisingly when we moved home in 2004 we were determined to regain control of our composting. We now have two heaps (if we had a bit more land we’d have three), both sited in sunnyish spots to keep the temperatures up. We mix browns and greens (a technical term apparently) and I stir with a fork when I feel cabin-fever coming on. The result is that the compost has rotted into a fabulous soil conditioner, it's so good I even feel proud enough to show people the contents of my bin.
Verdict: when will it be that successful compost making skills are rated as highly as a GSOH?