Step into the Shoes of A Student Trying to Compost
Returning your EcoNest #TrashtoNature is easy using the Bokashi Composting Method.
I’d like to say that I am an eco-friendly individual. I bring my own metal straw and utensils when I eat out, I turn off the tap and lights when I don’t use them, I try to cook my own meals and buy locally so there’s less packaging, I make e-notes for school so I don’t use paper, all that stuff. But I wanted to reduce my carbon footprint even further and that’s when I came across composting. Now composting wasn’t all that new and I know I’ve heard the term before when referring to farms and wastes, but I never realized that there was more than one type of composting and a lot of those variations could be done at home.
One method was Bokashi composting, which uses a bucket and could essentially be done at home. I found Bokashi Pinoy’s 30 day Garbage to Garden challenge and decided to try it out. After registering in the course, I received my Bokashi bucket, some Ipa, some lecture materials and videos, and was ready to go.
Ready for composting. Bokashi Bucket and Ipa for composting sent to our challenger (box not included).
One very important thing to note is that I am a college student living with my parents and sister who are all also confined to the house due to the remote learning/work from home setup. My meals are whatever is served for the whole family since we have our meals together. The only thing I have control over is the snacks and my personal trash. It’s important to keep this in mind as my experiences and perceptions may be influenced by my situation and other people in different living situations may view the same activity differently. I am in no way claiming my experience as a standard for anyone trying this out and cannot guarantee the same results. With that in mind, here’s what happened during my first composting experience.
I like new experiences and this one was no different. I was excited to try something eco-friendly out and hit the ground running. Thanks to my reading and preparations, I knew that fruits and vegetables were the most common waste in any compost bin so I made sure to consume lots of those in the first few days. I tried to continue this for the whole time I was composting so that I would have lots of waste to put into my bucket, but some days just passed by without me making any usable kitchen scraps. Some meals would just be yogurt or bread which didn’t really produce any waste, which was both good and bad in a way.
Convenient placement of tubs and buckets helps to remind her to compost scraps.
It took me a while before I could fully fill the bucket, but that was easily remedied after a few days. One obstacle that took me a while to get through was the smell. Before anyone starts composting they should be prepared to face some really awful stenches throughout the process. Just to clarify, I’m not maarte, I have been around baby and pet waste and my bedroom has a window which the garbage truck, for whatever reason, just loves to drive by on trash pick-up days so I’ve been exposed to my fair share of foul smells. Composts naturally gain a bad smell due to the wastes and scraps being broken down and releasing CO2 and other beneficial byproducts; while I knew this information going in it didn’t make it any easier to stand the smell every time I opened the tub to put in waste. It helps to think that what I was doing was for the benefit of my garden and I would only have to endure the smell for a split second (depending how fast I was opening and closing the lid).
Stage 3 Bokashi Bucket ready for transfer.
One thing I enjoyed while composting was how easy it was. Aside from the smell and eating more fruits and veggies, composting was simple to do and didn’t require much effort or time. The fact that I was doing Bokashi composting might have influenced the level of difficulty because Bokashi composting only requires me to put wastes in a bin and wait. There weren’t any extra tools or chemicals I needed to add and it didn’t require my attention every set number of days after I had put it all in the tub. One trick that helped was to keep the tub or bin I did composting in in areas that were directly in my line of sight or convenient to reach. For example, I kept the tub near the kitchen sink so that every time I finished chopping food I would see the tubs and remember to throw it there instead of the conventional trash bin.
During the experience, I wanted to challenge myself even further. Food scraps and garden wastes were easy to compost, but I wanted to diversify my bucket as this could help the fermentation. After scrolling through Instagram, I found EcoNest PH and was amazed at how many eco-friendly packaging options they offer that were sustainably made, biodegradable, AND compostable! It seemed too good to be true so I ordered a cassava bag, bagasse take-out containers, and some utensils to pair. I tried them out throughout the week, using the Cassa -bags as trash bags and using the bagasse containers for take-outs at restaurants (this was hard but there are restaurants that accept putting the food in your take-out container, just be friendly when making the request).
After I used them, I put them in with the food wastes. In just a few days I could already see they were breaking down and degrading just like any compostable waste. I was so happy with my new discovery because I was simultaneously reducing my trash by composting the materials and regulating my consumer habits by buying sustainable packaging that I could reuse (that bagasse cup survived a week of being filled and refilled with water, being put in and taken out of the ref, and even hot water for my morning drink).
EcoNest PH Cassabag and Sugarcane container can be composted too!
As I learned more about the things I could and couldn’t put into my composting bin, I became aware of the amount of trash I was actually producing and what part of that could be composted and/or recycled. Throwing away a used tissue or a chicken bone would have normally been an autopilot function, but now, suddenly my brain was compelled to stop for a split second, recognize what exactly I was throwing away, and then decide how I should dispose of it.
Another amazing thing composting hardwired into my brain was to be aware of what I consume just as much as what I throw away. The Law of Conservation of Energy tells us that energy can’t be created nor destroyed, just converted from one form to another. The same goes with our trash; it doesn’t just magically appear out of nowhere throughout the day but comes from us using disposable materials.
With that logic in mind, composting is not only a tool for reducing my output (trash) but also for regulating my input (goods). For example, I realized how little fruits and vegetables I was eating throughout the day when I wasn’t able to fill the tub of kitchen waste. Granted, it was a fairly big tub and I can only eat so much in a day, but still, when I recounted my meals I noticed that in 3 days I had only eaten one or two meals with vegetables. So, surprisingly, composting helped me adopt a healthier eating habit.
Another thing I noticed is how much waste takeouts produce. Due to the lockdown restrictions ordering out has become a staple or even a necessity in people’s lives. While I don’t condone taking out as it does help those locked in their houses and creates jobs for many, there is just so much trash involved per meal. When I became aware of this fact, I started looking for stores and restaurants that deliver their food in eco-friendly containers so that I wasn’t being wasteful and I could have another thing to add to my compost. I really appreciate eco-friendly companies, like EcoNest PH, which advocate for sustainable materials and do their part by selling products that won’t harm the environment. It allows me to enjoy shopping from their partner stores without feeling the guilt of contributing to wastes that takes hundreds of years to disappear.
In the end, it wasn’t easy starting out a new practice, but over time, with effort and commitment, it became a good habit for both myself and the environment. Overall, composting has helped me develop my practical skills and my mindfulness. After just 2 weeks, I’ve started to eat more fruits and vegetables, which benefits both my compost and my body and I’ve lessened my use of disposable materials unless they are eco-friendly and can be placed in my compost after use.
Composting is a great practice for anyone who wants to turn their TrashtoNature. But if composting is a big step for you based on where you are on your eco-friendly journey, then that’s no problem. You can take baby steps to achieve this lifestyle and one thing you can do right now is to switch to eco-friendly packaging and materials so that even if you’re not composting, your trash still won’t harm the environment.
EcoNest compostables can be used for composting in a variety of ways.