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Do you even (Workplace) Compost?

Office composting is now a thing. Did you know that?

It is hard to keep up with environmental trends these days. I remember the days when plastic plants were considered the new best thing. Which must have been tragic for those plant rental companies.

I was always jealous of those people who silently came into the office, wearing comfy clothes (green or khaki) and whose job it was to trim dead leaves off the plants, give them water, a bit of fertiliser, turn them to the sun, and occasionally and quietly replace one plant with another plant that looked almost the same but wasn’t droopy (or just plain dead).

These people seemed to have such positive, happy jobs. They were stress free and comfortable, and I am sure that the practice they had with subtly replacing the dead with the living would have set them up very well to replace a goldfish or guinea pig that their children loved but that didn’t survive the ‘care’ they gave them.

I was horrified when plastic plants replaced real ones. Ok, so it might be carefree, practical and easy, but plastic plants are NOT plants. These days at least they look a lot more real. Stories abound of the caring office staff who have been watering the plastic plants and thinking they were doing an awesome job of caring for them.

Nowadays the best offices have a nice mix of greenery that does and does not breathe. Enough real ones to provide the feel and oxygen of a garden, with some realistic plastic where it is just not practical to manage and water.

But having real plants in the office is just not enough anymore. Recycling has been around a long time now, and people are used to separating scrap paper from secure docs for the correct recycling option. We are recycling our ink cartridges and coffee pods, and reusable coffee cups and water bottles are normal too! Nice work.

Lately I have been thrilled to see compost bins in workplaces. Being fairly new in office kitchens there is confusion from some as to what they should and shouldn’t do. Many people ignore the compost bin. A sigh and a “that’s too hard” attitude means they just place their food scraps and coffee grounds in the normal bin as per habit. Fair enough – it is quite a niche and new office function, even though we have heard about composting, and maybe our parents or grannies were great at it.

According to Sarah Gibbens in a recent National Geographic article titled “How to compost – and why it’s good for the environment” –

‘About a third of the food produced around the world goes to waste, and much of it ends up in landfills – where it becomes a source of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.’

That is pretty scary. Particularly when there is such an easy solution. ‘Composting turns rotting garbage into a valuable soil enhancer that helps plants thrive. Farmers call it “black gold”.’

Each office will have different ways of using their compost food scraps, from backyard garden compost heaps, to disposal in large community facilities. However the outcome is the same. Waste diverted from landfill to be converted into a decomposing pile of microbe filled garden goodness!

At Platypus Coworking there is a little compost tub on the bench. Usually filled with teabags, fruit scraps, some bread and the occasional salad, I grab it greedily and feed it to my compost heaps or worm bins. This stuff is magic!

At my place, virtually no food goes to waste. What is not eaten by humans is shared between the dog (meat and some dairy leftovers), the chickens (green leafy scraps, fruit, rice and bread), the worm bin (salad items, peels, shredded paper) and my compost heaps (stuff like veggie stems, potato skins, teabags, coffee grounds, onion peels and so many other things).

And the resulting goodness from all of these things becomes new fresh vegetables, nice tasty eggs, delicious fruit, and helps to provide nutrients to some beautiful roses, flower beds, and trees.

Sounds like a lot of work I hear you saying? Sure, maybe a bit.

But for those of us happy to do this to achieve the outcomes we love in our gardens it is great that you may not want to. All you need to do is put your fruit, veg, salad, coffee and bread scraps in the little bucket on the bench and we will do the rest. You get to be good to the environment, and we get better gardens.

And the waste is no longer wasted! You get to be a composter without effort.

So when someone asks you if you do your bit for the environment, you can tell them that you do – you are a Workplace Composter now!

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