Did you know that, on average, every Ontarian produces more than 850 kilograms of waste every year? For the past 10 years, residents have only recycled about 25% of their waste, meaning that over eight million tonnes of waste is being sent to landfill each year.
In an effort to improve these numbers, the government announced details about Ontario's Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy this past spring. This new initiative outlines the province's plan to fight climate change by reducing landfilled materials that could otherwise be reused, recycled, composted and reintegrated into the economy. The Waste-Free Ontario Act will make it mandatory to separate food and other organics from the waste stream with municipalities told to implement programs by the end of 2018. This means that families will need to start being more diligent about recycling and composting in their homes in the very near future.
The good news? Composting is easy! You can find a composting unit in plastic or wood at your local hardware store, or you can make your own. Check online for step-by-step instructions.
Here are some tips for ensuring that you have success with backyard composting:
1. Place your composter in a dry, shady accessible location (remember, you can use it during summer and winter).
2. Add your compost material in alternating layers of greens and browns. Greens are kitchen scraps, such as vegetables, fruit, tea bags, coffee grounds and crushed eggshells. Browns are leaves, grass clippings, cut-up twigs, sawdust and shredded paper products.
3. Occasionally you may need to add water. Your compost should be damp, but not soaking wet.
4. Add a layer of soil every so often. This will introduce micro-organisms that will help break down the material and deter insects.
5. Add air. Every month or so, turn the compost well. Some composters are even mounted on frames that allow for easy turning.
For a backyard composter, avoid any fish, meat, dairy products, fats or oils. These materials may attract pests. If your area has a green bin system, these materials are still fine for pickup. After a few months, your compost will be ready for your garden. Its nutrient-rich qualities will keep your plants healthy and happy while reducing your household waste.