International Compost Awareness Week

International Compost Awareness Week started on Sunday and today I installed a new compost bin from Aerobin.
It took an hour:

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  • Select a reasonably shady site CLOSE TO THE KITCHEN;
  • Level the ground so you can drain off the worm juice;
  • Construct a support platform so the bin sides are evenly supported;
  • I’m a traditionalist, so the first layer is of chopped organic sugarcane 15cm deep. That’s carbon rich, absorbent and allows air to percolate through. You can use straw or shredded paper;
  • The second (and subsequent layers) is 15cm deep, but of nitrogen rich kitchen scraps: tea leaves, coffee, fruit and vegetables scraps, chopped paper;
  • Moisten with seaweed solution, which accelerates composting.

The idea is to keep a balance between carbon (= fungus food) and nitrogen (= bacteria food). To do this alternate the layers between dry, woody, carbon-rich materials with the soft, leafy, nitrogen-rich materials for pleasant smelling compost.

I re-used the nearly ready compost from my old bin, blending it with freshly chopped lemongrass leaves.

The old bin now becomes my ‘slow compost heap’ where old banana stumps and canna rhizomes can quietly become humus.


Here’s the official International Compost Awareness Week MR:


“Approximately 50% of the rubbish we put in the everyday mixed-waste ‘garbage bin’ could actually abate climate change were it properly composted instead via either commercial or domestic composting methods.

Alarmingly though, this huge amount of organically-active material currently lies buried ‘anaerobically’ (without air) in landfill, where it causes over 3% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions annually by producing methane: a gas with 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide!

Treated alternatively as a resource, most of this organically active ‘waste’ – like kitchen scraps, garden clippings, paper and wood – could be diverted from landfill: either via curbside-collected, council-provided bins, like ‘green bins’ (for garden clippings) and blue bins (for paper recycling), or via a compost bin.

Lesser-known compost applications are helping regenerate degraded land areas (like mines, eroded catchments and salinity effected land) and are even being used to help clean storm water before it travels into the ocean, as is currently the case at North Steyne beach in New South Wales. (See –

In your own backyard, kitchen scraps, sawdust, vacuum cleaner contents… anything that ever lived can be composted in a built or bought compost bin.

Responsible on farms for sinking carbon back into the earth, improving soil structure and water retention, increasing agricultural yield and saving an average of 30% in irrigation needs, compost is a major link to improving some of the major environmental issues confronting society today.

Imagine if compost products were used to save water on all private gardens and public ameneties, like football fields, parks and botanic gardens? Did you know that if every farmer in the world used organic farming methods and compost (instead of increasingly expensive, petroleum-based agricultural fertilizers), the world would be carbon-neutral?

Australia needs a serious, nationally-coordinated rethink about how we are managing matters of the ‘waste stream’ and how this effects global warming.

International Composting Awareness Week (ICAW) is an opportunity to increase community awareness of this valuable process and product. Visit our Calendar at to find out what local councils and other event organisers are doing in celebration of growing Australia’s awareness of Composting to Combat Climate Change.

Jerry Coleby-Williams

6th May 2008


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