OUT the front of Steph Gobor's house is a simple, discreet compost bin.
When she moved to Ballarat from Melbourne a couple of months ago, Steph wanted to keep fuelling the compost revolution and hoped her new neighbourhood would catch on. Steph wants their scraps.
Steph is part of online movement ShareWaste, a national forum connecting people who want to recycle organic waste with people who can compost it for them.
Slowly, people are calling past Steph's place, including a family up the street, dropping random scraps.
"I had more success in the city. People seem more conscious of reducing their waste in the city, especially those living in apartments. I had new messages every week and it was hard to be home all the time to collect it," Steph said.
"There was one guy in the city, he was a student at the university nearby, and I wasn't going to be home. He couldn't remember my address so he sent me a photo of his ice-cream container full of scraps hidden in the bushes a couple of streets over. It was like a special mission to go and find it."
Steph says she was lucky to have a courtyard garden in her apartment. She started small with her first foray into waste reduction with a worm garden subsidised by her council.
This grew into a starting a vegetable garden, then composting until Steph and her partner became part of the radical homemaker movement, aiming to live off what they can grow and preserve.
Moving to Ballarat on a block with plenty of space, Steph has been able to expand her efforts. She has even found a way to compost pet poo from dog Tino (named after the Gardening Australia host). This is done in a designated spot well away from the vegetable garden.
Steph said most of her efforts have been from research, experimenting and do-it-yourself methods to avoid expensive equipment.
"My epic compost dream is for every street or block to have one passionate person collecting organic waste," Steph said. "There are always passionate gardeners around. If we all talk to each other, it can be easy. How can you change the world without looking first to your community and neighbours?"
No Waste Ballarat is exploring ways to work with the City of Ballarat on developing community scrap bins in streets or courtways.
Community groups are also developing ways to help each other in reducing organic waste.
Ballarat Community Garden has a couple of small work farms and space for green waste but is unable to upkeep other organic waste. Garden chairperson Sheilagh Kentish applauded the moves of people like Steph and said this was a great avenue for the garden to look at working with neighbours more.
Urquhart Park Primary School sustainable gardening kitchen teacher Kerry Hartmann said the school had reduced its waste by one-third in learning the art of composting. The school is part of the ResourceSmart Schools Program.
"Our composting is humming along quite nicely and quietly," Ms Hartmann said. "Our students lead by example, it's embedded as part of their day now."
Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group executive officer La Vergne Lehmann said it was important prospective composters start small and only with what they could manage to compost properly.
Ms Lehmann said lots of people could be initially scared off from composting.
But sharing waste was a great way to starting doing a bit more.
"A lot of people say they don't get it, or don't get it right. Those who love composting, really love it," Ms Lehmann said. "Composting is like any cooking. You've got to get the measurements right: a mix of wet and dry, brown and green. Get it a bit wrong and it can bring all sorts of problems."
The waste and recovery group is set to launch a string of composting projects, in line with International Compost Awareness Week in May, to engage more people with their scraps.
Compost Revolution will offer online tips and advice and a compost-a-thon for schools, community groups and individuals to post pictures of their progress and interact with each other on problems and successes.
For Steph, the accessible compost collection on her front lawn is the beginning. She will often transfer the food scraps and grass clippings to her hot compost system in the backyard.
"It's heaps better than anything you can buy. You can feel the nutrients and much cheaper, so it's good all-round," Steph said.
"I think small wins and seeing differences sparks interest enough to keep going with it.
"Composting becomes part of your passive routine."
Steph's top home composting tips
- Bokashi bins can be handy in units or smaller kitchens. They keep for a while and then can be emptied in a larger neighbourhood compost bin and make really good, rich compost.
- Make worm farms from old buckets by drilling your own holes in the bottom.
- Do you research, experiment, and talk to others for tips and ideas to get started or grow your composting systems.
- Worms like pumpkin.
- Do not compost meat, bones, bread or dairy. These can also attract vermin.
- Find apps to sign up and share compost. Some people also collecting chook poo.
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