Do’s and don’ts of the compost heap

Leading an eco friendly lifestyle often means plenty of recycling. By using the correct recycling bins to dispose of your waste or finding a way to reuse items yourself, you can give 'rubbish' a new lease on life – even your reusable bag is made from recycled material!

In fact, recycling isn't restricted to your typical plastic and paper products. There's even a way to recycle your food scraps, and that's through composting. Starting a compost heap is a great way to make use of leftover dinner and lunch box scraps, as well as create quality compost to add to your garden.

But just what can you add to your compost heap – and what's off limits?

According to Clean Up Australia, compost heaps require a mix of components in order to thrive. These components are nitrogen, carbon, oxygen and water. 

Nitrogen comes from the green ingredients you add to your heap. Think lawn clippings or plants from the garden, such as lettuce that's gone to seed. This also includes your kitchen scraps – fruit peelings, banana skins, and vegetable leftovers are great choices. Even the grounds from your coffee can be added to your compost heap!

Carbon should be added to your pile in the form of brown, woody material such as branches from pruning the garden, dried leaves and old hay or straw. A great tip is to break these materials up into small pieces so they can decompose more easily.

Though they don't fall under the category of recycling, water and oxygen are also essential for quality compost. Keep your pile damp (but not soggy) and turn it regularly to provide air.

However, there are some scrap items that just shouldn't have a place in the compost heap. Avoid any meat scraps or leftover fat from cooking pans, and anything with seeds attached, such as weeds and seedy vegetable scraps. Likewise, dairy products should not be disposed of in your compost heap.