Composting in London – Is it an Impossible Mission?
Since I moved overseas and started travelling to different countries on a regular basis, I have been seeing the world in a different light. COLDPLAY ARE RIGHT ABOUT SOMETHING. We do live in a beautiful world and we who are able should try to do our part to take care of it.
I am therefore on a mission of sorts – to try and cut down on my environmental impact, in any way I can.
I started by swapping over single use and plastic items for stuff that was long lasting or recyclable. It consisted of doing some research online and a bit of shopping. Pretty simple stuff, in the end.
That done, I turned my attention to the area that I knew would prove to be hugely challenging.
Did you know that the United Kingdom throws out 7 million tonnes of food waste a year? And that more than half of this is food that is still fit to be consumed?
7 million tonnes. Just think of all that food rotting in landfill, which is something we are definitely going to have issues with at some point in the future. Yummy.
So in a nutshell, food waste = bad. How do we address this issue?
My parents have a compost and put everything they can in there. Bread and vegetable scraps go to their pet chickens and meat to our two dogs. They have a very eco-friendly set up going on and I love them even more for it.
Yet, they also have the slightly unfair advantage of living on an acre and a half and having their own vegetable garden. I live right in the city of London. In a flat. With no garden.
It’s estimated that by 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population will reside in urban environments. That’s a lot of people living in cities. Then take into account the fact that, the world population is projected to rise to almost ten billion by that year.
As an individual, I was throwing so much food waste into the bin, on a daily basis. I therefore decided to move composting in London to the top of my list. I had the will… now I had to find a way.
What I really want is a worm farm. I am bereft without my dogs and need a pet, or hundreds. However, I live with friends in a flat that is not my own. My flatmates are lovely, reasonable people, but they weren’t all that keen on the idea of keeping a box of rotting food in the kitchen. To be honest, neither was I!
Composting food myself was an option that was off the table, until I lived alone or had a garden. Realistically, this is never going to happen so long as I live in London.
I then realised there may be drop off zones across the city for compost. Food markets seemed a probable bet. I searched and searched and either I suck at googling… or they just don’t exist in central London. I consider myself very good at using the internet, especially considering how much time I spend on it. I therefore concluded that there just mustn’t be any.
At this point, I began to get very frustrated with London. There is a lot I like about living here, but it is such continual hard work, especially where this mission was concerned. I had seen composting bins in some of the outer boroughs – why was it so hard to compost in the city? New York, a city I am very much enamoured by and often quietly compare London to, has a whole composting program going on. Is this regard, London seemed miles behind.
I had one last option left, before hitting utter despair.
London is notorious for its parks and gardens, so surely there had to be an option nearby. My housemate pointed out that there was indeed a community garden down the street. I tracked down an email address and sent them an inquiry. Unfortunately, this was their reply:
I would love to say ‘yes’ to bringing compost to — but unfortunately we have a lot of waste from the other gardens around — which we manage and have effectively run out of space in — for anymore composting! I’m afraid I can’t think of any other composting sites.
Blast and damnation.
I wasn’t ready to give up. I extended my search to the south and eventually found a garden in my old suburb of Peckham. I emailed another inquiry and the answer was…
Yes, please drop by on a sunday. No meat, fish, dairy or bread products in the compost though.
Hooray! Mission accomplished.
My housemates and I have started keeping all our vegetables and fruit waste in bags in the freezer. We hardly ever use it, so there is plenty of room to spare.
Once we have accumulated a good amount, I will be journeying out to Peckham to feed their worms my scraps!
Another task ticked off what I can assure you is a very long list.