A career in composting

Councils across the country are reruiting people to work on recycling schemes. One such job is that of community composting officer for East Riding Council. The Mail on Sunday, reactionary to the end, feel that this should be mocked for some reason. They go on about the terrible cost, implying that it would be better spent on teachers and such like, ignoring or oblivious to the fact that well run recycling schemes will save the councils more than they’re spending on the people running them.

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Quickly greening your new home

Those of us who rent accomodation don’t have as much scope for improving household efficiency as owners. However, there are still things we can do. This list is a checklist for anyone moving into a new house or flat. What can you do in your first few days to use less energy and save yourself money-

1. Let there be light

Low energy lightbulbs are cheap nowadays. They’ll repay your investment in a matter of months, if not weeks. Take those filament bulbs, throw them away and replace them with compact fluorescents.

2. Fix the flush

You can reduce the amount of water used each time you flush the toilet in a number of ways. The traditional one is to fill a bottle with water and dunk it in the cistern. More technical fixes involve gadgets such as the Hippo. If you’re feeling particularly dedicated, how about adopting a “yellow is mellow” policy and choose not to flush at all some times.

3. Get balls

Ecoballs are a good alternative to washing powders and liquids. They do the job and cut down on the amount of pollution generated by washing clothes. Just remember not to leave them in when tumble drying. Two of my balls were left in once and the foamy bumper rings around them now look a lot worse for wear.

4. Recycle

If your new home doesn’t have recycling bins then call your council and get some sent over. Some councils won’t supply recycling bins for houses split into flats unless you get on the phone and peck their heads.< 5. Compost

If you’ve got a garden then put your green waste to good use. Keeping organic matter out of the bin and landfill reduces methane production and the by-products can do wonders for your flowers and herbs.

6. Declutter

The charity shops of Withington are doing well out of me at the moment as I trim my book and comic stashes so I have to cart less stuff when I move. There are few better times to separate the wheat from the chaff than when you’re boxing everything up anyway.

7. Switch suppliers

There are plenty of green energy companies and schemes popping up. Why not vote with your direct debit and move to one of them.

8. Master your thermostat

It’s always a good idea to get your heating set up sensibly. Choose a level a little lower than the previous tenants and accept that some days you might need to put on an extra layer.

9. Shop local

Most urban dwellers can get everything they need from local shops, often for less than they’d pay at the supermarket. If there’s a good market nearby they’ll have a wider choice, for significantly less, than Asda et al can provide.

10. Explore

You’ll be going for a walk to find all those local shops, so turn it into an expedition. You can achieve a lot without having to get into a car. Look for public transport connections, parks, public spaces and little zen corners where you can recharge. Be on the lookout for fruit trees as well, few things taste as good as meals you harvested yourself.

This list was inspired by the current group writing project at Problogger.

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You are what you throw away

Around a third of all food in the UK is thrown away. The process starts with the need for perfect, symmetrical and clean groceries and continues all the way through the process to failure to reuse left overs and throwing out stuff that’s a second past its sell by date. I couldn’t calculate it, but I’d hazard a guess that Casa Spinneyhead’s cost per capita in food waste is less than the national average of £420 per year, especially now we’ve started composting. (A matter for another time is just what the hell am I going to do with the compost when it matures? It’s not like we have a garden or anything.)

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Casa Spinneyhead still throws away a lot of perfectly good composting material, so I’m looking at ways to utilise it.

Hippyshopper recommends wormeries, but I’m working on a budget. has cheaper options. The Community Composting Network has resources if I wanted to get my neighbours to muck in. Allegedly the council has a scheme where I can get cheap compost boxes, but the number on the website has been disconnected, so that’s not much use. They do run the Kerb it green waste recycling service, but we’re obviously not in any of the chosen pilot areas.

To conclude- it’s off to B&Q I go!

UpdateJeff pointed me to this easy DIY wormery, and I found the Green Cone, designed to speed up the composting through solar heating and insulation and feed the nutrients direct into your soil.

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24hour Mulching People

New from Japan, a kitchen waste disposal system that works extremely quickly to create compost. It doesn’t say whether this compost is viable for horticultural use or merely a bonus in reducing volume. The first would be excellent, but the latter’s a good step forward in itself from a landfill point of view.

via Treehugger

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