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Home composting

At least 30 per cent of the contents of the average household bin could be composted at home.

  • It is a great way of improving your soil fertility for free
  • Landfilling of organic waste produces methane (a greenhouse gas) while composting does not
  • It is a 'closed-loop' recycling system - you produce the waste, you compost it, you use the product
  • Compost is a good alternative to buying peat-based composts, which result in peat bog habitat loss

Special offer home compost bins

Cambridgeshire councils are now offering low-cost compost bins delivered to your home. Prices start at just £16.98 plus £5.49 delivery, with buy one get one half price offers on some bins. You can order compost bins online or by calling 0844 571 4444.

What you can compost at home

  • 'Greens'
    • fruit and vegetable peelings
    • tea bags and coffee grounds
    • old flowers
    • grass cuttings
  • 'Browns'
    • cardboard egg boxes
    • small amounts of scrunched up newspaper
    • bedding from vegetarian pets (eg. straw, hay or newspaper from a rabbit hutch)
    • shredded paper
    • garden prunings

What you shouldn't compost at home

  • meat
  • fish
  • dairy
  • cooked food
  • cat and dog waste
  • coal ash (wood ash can be composted)

Solving composting problems

For composting to work properly, your bin needs both moisture and air. The best way to achieve this is to put in a good mixture of 'greens', which supply the moisture and nitrogen, and 'browns', which aerate the compost and supply carbon. ('Greens' and 'browns' are just convenient general terms and don't always reflect the actual colour of the materials).

  • If you find your compost is wet and sludgy:
    Add more 'browns' and turn the compost to let air in.
  • If the compost is too dry:
    Add 'greens' or a little water to the bin.

After a few months, the ingredients you have put in your compost bin should have turned into a dark brown, earthy material at the bottom of the bin, which can be dug out leaving the newer material in the bin.

Don't worry if your compost is not fine and crumbly. Even if it is lumpy, sticky or stringy, with bits of twig and eggshell still obvious, it is still usable.

A more comprehensive list of ingredients and good advice about composting is available on the Garden Organic home composting website.

Master composters

Cambridgeshire has a network of volunteers called master composters, dedicated to:

  • raising awareness of the benefits of composting
  • encouraging people to home compost
  • helping those already composting to do so more effectively
  • encouraging the setting up of community composting schemes.

If you are interested in speaking to, or becoming a master composter yourself, contact Compost Connexions at Cambridgeshire Community Reuse and Recycling Network (CCORRN) on 01354 742300.

Free soil conditioner

You can collect free soil conditioning compost from the AmeyCespa (formerly Donarbon) site off the A10 near Waterbeach. You need to take your own shovel and sacks. The soil conditioner is made from the contents of your green bins.

Alternatively, you can purchase the soil conditioner in 40litre sacks at £2.50 each from your local recycling centre.

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