Home Composting

Home Composting

Balancing the needs of three lively, young sons with running a family business and hosting a BBC radio programme can be more than a little demanding. However, becoming a mother has made me even more determined to do everything I can to make a difference to the environment.

Having studied a part-time degree in environmental sciences ten years ago, while presenting the ‘Tomorrow’s World’ programme, I’ve been aware of the issues of climate change for some time. This encouraged me to recycle as much as I could when I lived in London, particularly newspapers and glass bottles.

However, when my husband, Charlie, and I moved to our dream house in the West Country seven years ago, we really stepped up our efforts to be ‘green’. We’ve become even more conscientious about separating our rubbish to ensure that we recycle as much as possible and we make regular trips to the local recycling bottle banks. We try to buy recycled goods, such as paper and card, and we also re-use as many items as we can, including plastic bags and drinks bottles.

Our most recent ‘green’ purchase is a home composting bin. This really is a great addition to any home recycling scheme since composting the contents of your household bin can cut the amount of waste you send to landfill by up to a third. We bought ours from the Recycle Now website recyclenow.com/compost and it was a bargain at only £8 – and they even delivered it to our door.

We compost all sorts of things these days from eggshells, shredded paper and cardboard to peelings from the vegetables grown in our garden. Even the waste from our vacuum cleaner goes straight into the compost bin.

Combining fibrous ‘brown’ items such as shredded paper, scrunched up cardboard and twigs, with ‘greens’ such as vegetable peelings and grass cuttings makes excellent compost, which will be ready to use on the garden within about nine months. It also saves money because I don’t have to buy fertiliser from the local garden centre anymore. However, if I ever do need to buy compost I always make sure it is made from recycled green materials rather than peat, as this is another great way of supporting the green cause.

Recycling is very much a family affair in our household. Our two oldest boys, aged 5 and 3, take a keen interest in what goes into the bins. They will be the first to point out if someone accidentally puts the wrong item in the wrong bin, although my bins are clearly marked to try to reduce the problem.

The boys are fascinated by the way the compost bin works and they get so much pleasure from filling it up with waste and seeing compost come out the other end that they sometimes argue about whose turn it is to do it. I love to see them getting so involved. I think it’s really important for children to grasp environmental issues from an early age and to get into good habits that will hopefully last a lifetime.

My friends often ask how we manage to find time to traipse down to the bottle bank every week, or to compost our kitchen waste when we have three young children and lead such busy professional lives too. However, the secret is to incorporate recycling and other environmentally friendly habits into your everyday life. For example, I used to find that bottles were piling up before I could take them down to the local bottle bank and it was a major operation when I finally got round to it. However, now I have got into the routine of recycling them every week after I have presented my radio show and it isn’t an issue anymore.

Every area has a different set up for recycling, so you need to find out what is on offer to you. If your local council makes regular collections of various types of waste, it’s worth marking the dates on your calendar, or sticking a note on the fridge to ensure you don’t miss out. An easy way of finding out more about recycling in your area is to log on to recyclenow.com and simply enter your postcode.

Another simple tip to help you recycle as you go is to set up three clearly marked waste bins in the kitchen – a recycling bin, a composting caddy and one for other waste. This will make it much easier to divide up your rubbish and soon it will be second nature to put the right waste in the right bin.

Many people fear that going green could be expensive, but initial outlays are usually recouped by the savings that can be made. This is particularly the case for environmentally friendly innovations in the home such as rainwater harvesting systems and solar heating panels. We don’t have any such products at home as yet, but they are something that I intend to investigate for the future so that I can live an even greener life.

I guess one of the most difficult things for me has been trying to cut down on our petrol consumption. For example, I can reach the nearest town as quickly by bike as by car in rush hour, but it’s not possible to cycle with two young boys and a baby in tow. If there was one thing that I would like to see happen its the introduction of better public transport links. If we are going to discourage people from using their cars all the time, we have to provide safe, green, clean alternatives. In the meantime, I intend to continue to do all I can to raise public awareness of environmental issues and to support worthwhile initiatives such as home composting.

When I studied my environmental sciences degree a decade ago, few people really understood the effects of climate change and it was hard to persuade them to listen. I’ve been heartened by the way that so many people have begun to take these issues on board in recent years and are trying to change their lives.

As my experiences show, going ‘green’ is something that everyone can do whether they live in the city or the countryside. By making a few small changes to our everyday lives and encouraging our children to take an interest in the environment from an early age, we can all make a big difference.

Originally Published in ethical-living.org