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How to compost food scraps more effectively

04/23/2015 08:39 EDT | Updated 07/21/2015 12:59 EDT
The City of Vancouver has been quick to remind residents that food isn't garbage.

But while composting is the greener alternative to throwing food scraps away, the process can be both messy and invite some annoying pests.

Earlier this week, a Vancouver condo was forced to suspend its organics composting program over concerns about flies.

According to Louise Schwarz, the founder and co-owner of Recycling Alternative, making the process of composting easier and cleaner can make all the difference. Here are her four tips at being a better composter.

1. The difference between biodegradable and compostable bags

Louise Schwarz says if you're looking for something to store your compost in between garbage pickups, be sure to look for a symbol that indicates a product is 100 per cent compostable, not just biodegradable.

"I think it's really important to understand the difference between a compostable bag and a biodegradable bag. A compostable bag will break down and be composted, but a biodegradable is not necessarily biodegradable."

While biodegradable bags do eventually degrade naturally, Schwarz says, in some cases, they can take up to 10 years to do so.

2. Say no to the garburator

While the impulse to simply use the garburator on all food waste may be strong, Schwarz says it's best to resist the temptation.

"It's really just solution by dilution. You're just sending all that material down the drain into the sewer system."

She says that Instead of recovering organic waste to go back into the food cycle, using a garburator means simply washing it away. Additionally, she says municipalities have had a hard time handling that much organic material coming through the pipes.

3. Consider the process of bokashi

A Japanese term, bokashi is the process of minimizing compost through the fermentation of organic matter. It's a mixture of molasses, bran and microorganisms that can be either homemade or bought.

By excluding oxygen with microorganisms, bokashi works as a fairly cheap method to speed up the degrading process.

While Schwarz acknowledges that bokashi is a potential solution for some households, she says it's a process that can take some time and is therefore not as efficient for everyone.

4. Embrace the worms

Worms are great, says Louise. She admits to using them within her own compost buckets and says they're a non-intrusive asset to the composting process.

Despite her admiration of worms in compost heaps though, Schwarz says if you have a lot of compostable material on a daily basis, worms aren't the fastest method to decompose the waste.

"I love them, but they won't keep up with the volume."

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