GOOD

Supercharged Composting: How to Recycle All of Your Food Waste (Even Meat and Dairy)

This illustrated guide gives you step by step tips on how to use bokashi composting to recycle all of your food waste.


Composting is an important way of upcycling leftover food and combating rampant food waste. Composting also replenishes topsoil by adding back nutrients and vital microorganisms.

You can compost most food and paper in a bin with worms (vermicomposting), and a variety of systems exist to compost food scraps in your backyard, but what can you do with the leftover meat and dairy that other composts won’t take? Bokashi is a perfect solution.

Bokashi is a mixture of microorganisms that is known as a bokashi ‘bran’, and it has its origins in the Far East. The roots of bokashi are found in the natural farming methods traditionally practiced in Korea, and in the discovery of essential microorganisms in Japan by Dr. Teruo Hiya in the 1980s.

Dr. Higa’s special blend of EM (essential microorganisms) came from studying the ways that microorganisms benefit plant growth. His blend was first used in 1982 in Japan and now is marketed in 120 countries worldwide.




If you want to make your own bokashi mixture, it’s not necessarily easy, but there are some great online resources for DIY types. If you’re buying pre-made bokashi bran, keep in mind that a 2 lb supply should last you about three months per bokashi bucket.

Bokashi is odorless and pest free because it works with an airtight anaerobic process of fermentation. The bokashi bucket must be completely airtight with a faucet at the bottom so you can drain out the ‘tea’. There are lots of great bokashi buckets and systems for sale online, or your can build your own using some simple guidelines.

Bokashi ‘tea’ is a nutrient rich liquid that forms at the bottom of the bokashi bucket as a result of the heat created by the composting process. You’ll want to drain this tea every few days and either use it to water your plants and garden, or pour it down the drainit’s great for clearing out clogged drains.

One of the best things about bokashi composting is that you can put meat and dairy in the bin, foods that are difficult to compost with other methods. The other plus is the speed of bokashi compostingit takes only two weeks to compost a full bin of food waste. Additionally, the lack of smell and airtight nature of the containers make them perfect for indoor and apartment composting.


Bokashi bin set

If you want to keep composting continuously, it’s best to get two buckets. That way you can fill one bucket with waste and then begin filling the other bucket while the first is going through its 14-day fermentation cycle.

When the bin has finished its cycle, take the fermented food waste and bury it. If you have a garden, bury it right in the soil under a few inches of dirt and you’re done.

If you live in an apartment, dedicate an empty pot, fill it with soil, and use it to bury your fermented food waste. Once the fermented food waste is buried, it will break down completely in about two weeksagain you don’t have to worry about any bad smells or pests. The soil that you have created is packed with nutrients and healthy microorganisms. Spread it around to your plants, donate it to a local community garden, or create a kitchen herb garden.

Another option for city dwellers is to find a service that will pick up your fermented bokashi waste. In New York City, Vokashi does just that. For about $40/month they will provide you with a bin and bokashi bran and will pick up the waste for you.

Whichever way you decide to compost, you can be sure that you are doing your part to curb the problem of food waste in America by keeping that waste out of landfills. Americans waste approximately 40 percent of the food that is purchased! You’ll also be contributing to the creation of new healthy top soil. Healthy top soil is one of the most critical components for growing food on this planet.

So in addition to composting, make sure you only buy what you need, eat what you have in your fridge, learn more about food expiration dates, and what food items you can freeze to extend their shelf life.

To learn more about bokashi composting you can check out these great videos online.

***

Aubrey Yee is a writer and editor at Sustainable America, where she works to help people understand the importance of food security and energy independence for America.

Articles
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change means our future is uncertain, but in the meantime, it's telling us a lot about our past. The Earth's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, but as the ice dwindles, ancient artifacts are being uncovered. The Secrets of the Ice project has been surveying the glaciers on Norway's highest mountains in Oppland since 2011. They have found a slew of treasures, frozen in time and ice, making glacier archeologists, as Lars Pilø, co-director of Secrets of the Ice, put it when talking to CNN, the "unlikely beneficiaries of global warming."

Instead of digging, glacier archeologists survey the areas of melting ice, seeing which artifacts have been revealed by the thaw. "It's a very different world from regular archaeological sites," Pilø told National Geographic. "It's really rewarding work.

Keep Reading Show less

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture