Reducing biodegradable waste… using a hot bin

Around a year ago, Cardiff Council seemingly ran out of money and most basic services were cut. There were no bags for compostable waste anywhere for months. I have a pet rabbit, so he gets through a fair amount of sawdust and straw. I had a compost bin, but it was constantly full and it couldn’t possibly process the volume of waste our house was producing, with all the garden waste too. Then a rat moved in to the compost. So I investigated online, and found a HotBin. This is a very well insulated compost bin that allows air to flow freely through the composting material, super-charging the speed that the matter composts down. It also stated the added benefit of being rat-proof, plus it could take all food waste, including cooked meats (which the rest of the household eats).

The price was a major consideration. It would mean buying when I’d promised to reduce consumption. However, I couldn’t bring myself to throw green waste in to the landfill bin, so I took the plunge and ordered one.

A year later, I still think this is the best thing ever. I now dig out the compost from the base every four months and move this to the old compost heap to finish maturing until I need to mulch the garden. (Digging out the hot bin would be a great task for any budding archeologists.) I spent the day yesterday spreading the best compost I have ever made, soft and black and crumbly, with evidence of crushed egg shells and dark brown meat bones as the only sign of food waste.

Setting up the bin was easy, with steam being produced within a few days. My only wish is that I had a greenhouse, as I reckon if this was located inside, the amount of heat this bin produces could keep a winter greenhouse or polytunnel a few degrees warmer to keep salads going for longer. (Although it can smell if it starts to go anaerobic, so it may make the greenhouse a less pleasant place to be. I just use a stick to stir holes through to keep the air flow moving.)

There is more information on the website, HotBincomposting.com

Seeing as my council may soon take all food waste for anaerobic digestion, and garden waste for composting, is it worth having my own waste treatment system? I would say at the moment, definitely. The cost to the council to treat the waste will be at least £35/tonne, but they will be able to generate power from the biogas. When they get the digester started, it may be different. But for now, I get superb compost and no hassles when the council don’t collect the waste.

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How can I reduce the climate impact of a flight?

Firstly, don’t fly. All the good you do in the home or daily travel is absolutely dwarfed by carbon emissions from a single flight. Read up about holidays that don’t involve flying and try and convince whoever you normally holiday with that these are better holidays. Wherever you live, look up the best train journeys, (Deutsche Bahn for Europe) bus journeys, cycling journeys, or ferries, and aim to travel and experience, not just fly. Visit The Man in Seat Sixty-One for further guidance on planeless travel around the world.

However, if not flying is not possible, then try to… Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW… How Much is Enough? The Love of Money, and the Case for the Good Life

Authors: Robert Skidelsky & Edward Skidelsky

ISBN: 978-1-846-14448-6

An interesting question that is never asked in our modern society. Because surely everyone wants more? “How much is Enough?” begins by looking back at how we set off on this road to growth, and how the economy has provided real progress to remove the risk of extreme poverty. In the developed world, we have succeeded. Crops fail and droughts occur, leading to famines for the developing world, but these no longer impact us. We can buy our way out of hunger. We have support structures that protect us from pestilence and disease. What we are now facing is relative poverty, one person’s wealth against another. We should be celebrating this interim success, by helping those who haven’t reached this level yet. But along the way, we forgot where we were aiming for. We are all still climbing upwards, but towards what? Economic growth and GDP are the only measures that politicians believe we are interested in, and so we continue without an end. Written in 2012 after several years of economic depression, the authors review Keynes’ attempt to foresee the future of work and poverty as he saw it from the depths of the 1930s recession. Keynes saw the use of capitalism as a necessary evil in order to reach the point when we would get the results we were after. When we reached this point of abundance for all, when our ‘needs’ were met, we would reduce our working hours accordingly. Greater mechanization would mean less work would be required to create products, and so we would have more time for leisure, and life. Whilst Keynes’ predicted many drivers correctly over time, he underestimated the insatiable growth of ‘desires’ to replace our dwindling list of ‘needs’. The twentieth century saw the introduction of advertising to teach consumers to buy because of our desires, rather than our needs. We no longer had natural or moral limits to our greed. (You might really like eating cheesecake, but there is still a natural limit to consumption. With greed for money, this limit doesn’t exist.) Greed and competitive consumption were encouraged, and the concept of avarice, as one of the seven deadly sins was buried. Conspicuous consumption had become a requirement for modern living, rather than an embarrassment. Continue reading