• Katie Traill

The Bokashi System: Indoor Composting

The first big step I took towards domestic waste reduction was installing a food scrap composting system. Food waste makes up about 40% of Aussie household waste and, even in our mindful household, we produce lots. Living in a rental with (seemingly) no room for a large outdoor composting system, this was the most convenient option for us and perhaps for you, too. This post is not sponsored and based on personal experience.

So what is it?

The Bokashi system is an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment in which bacteria break down food scraps into garden-friendly organic matter. The set-up is super simple – the fully sealable bucket sits in your kitchen, which you fill with food scraps over days to weeks until it is full. With the bucket comes a bag of anaerobic (not requiring oxygen) bacteria-coated husks. These are the champions that speed up the break-down and are added at about one tablespoon per cup of scraps. Every few days, you need to empty the liquid by-product through a valve at the bottom and this becomes a great liquid garden fertiliser when diluted at about 1:10 with water. When the bucket is full, you simply dig a shallow trench somewhere in your yard, bury the contents, and (ideally) plant into the soil above it a few weeks later where delicious nutrients will be readily available!

Bokashi bin, inculated husks and juice

What’s so good about this system? Well, firstly, the sealable container means you can keep it indoors with no smell, no critters and convenient placement. It is perfect for small workplaces, apartments and flats because of this. Also, because you get free compost AND fertiliser from it, you really reduce the need to purchase these things for your garden beds, pots or planters. Thirdly, you can put meat and dairy in these (if you want), though we don’t simply because I don’t eat these things in the first place. I recently attended a composting 101 course in North Fitzroy where I heard mixed opinions regarding aerobic versus anaerobic compost and achieving best results in the garden. I don’t claim to know enough about microbiology to develop on this, but the system works for me and while my livelihood is not based on maximal efficiency of crop production, I shall continue to use it! Learn more about the Bokashi system on their website: www.bokashi.com.au

Why compost food scraps, don’t they just break down in landfill anyway?

No! I wish this were true, but food can amazingly keep its form for a really long time. This is because landfill is often packed so tightly that there is no oxygen for decay processes to occur (under hundreds of tonnes of waste). Furthermore, when food CAN break down in landfill, it does so slowly and anaerobically, producing greenhouse gases (predominantly methane) – not good! Imagine how many tonnes of gases are currently exuding from restaurant waste in Victoria alone.. To read more on reducing your food waste from the get-go, visit Youth Food Movement’s project Spoonled: www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/spoonled

My main point from this post is that there’s an option for food scrap recycling WITHOUT a big outdoor set-up or effortful manual labour. It’s just too easy, so give it a go! More on outdoor composting systems and food waste reduction coming in future blog posts..

For more tips and inspiration, as well as event info, make sure you're following @seedblog on Instagram and Facebook. I love messages, comments and questions, as well as shares of anything you find helpful! Thanks for taking time from your day to read this, legend.

- Katie