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16 October 2017

The Joy of Composting

Compost recycling

On Saturday I started a garden job I love – plundering my multifarious (5!) compost facilities for brown gold. Normally I would do this in the spring, but a planned extension to our house means they've got to move. Unfortunately we will lose compost capacity in the new set up, but I don't think my boys would be happy if I told them they had to keep sharing a tiny bedroom because I needed a two garden compost bays, a food bin, a leaf mould bag and a wormery...

I love composting as it is the only true recycling that all of us with a modicum of outdoor space can do. And there's something fascinating about the processes involved – setting the right conditions for all those mini beasts, microbes and fungi working together to turn waste into, literally, a nutrient which is returned to soil from whence it came.

The downside, physically and emotionally, is the amount of plastic I have to sieve out of what should be in theory 100% biodegraded material. Small bits of polystyrene, baby wipes, envelope windows, errant bits of Lego, fruit labels – it's amazing what works its way into the compost.

For those of us who encourage organisations to go zero waste, there's nothing like a few hours of hands-on waste processing to remind ourselves of the practicalities. It's very satisfying to boot.

 

 

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18 September 2015

Goldflush!

plan b

Something I missed earlier in the year was the discovery that when we sit on the toilet, we are literally sitting on a goldmine. US researchers found that the amount of gold in our faeces is about the same as that in mineral deposits. Another study estimated that, by extracting all metals, the annual excrement of a million Americans could be worth $13 million. There are over 300 million Americans, and a further 900 million plus living in OECD countries whose consumption patterns are broadly similar. You do the math.

In addition, extracting toxic metals such as lead would make it more viable to use composted human waste as fertiliser – maybe extracting gas first – turning a waste material into a potential product.

I love this kind of thinking – urban mining in the true sense of the word where everything from road-sweepings to our own poo is seen as a potential goldmine. Where there's muck indeed...

 

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