Composting in a Share House

Living in a share house has lots of benefits. From splitting bills and the costs of furnishings to games nights and family dinners plus there’s always someone around to chat to!

Hannie from our team lives in a share house with three others here in Byron Bay. They decided to take the plunge and set up a home composting system and she documented how they did it below. 


Living in the Byron Shire we're lucky that we can add food scraps to our green bin for council collection but as a household we decided we wanted to challenge ourselves and start composting at home so we could reduce the food scraps we add to our green bin each week.

While we try and cook together once a week, the rest of the time we make our own meals. Four people, making three meals a day...that’s 84 meals a week which can equal a lot of food scraps! Collecting food scraps has become part of our daily routine and we keep our Compost Bin on the kitchen counter as a reminder. But recently we decided it was time to take it one step further and get our own home composting system.

As we’re renting, we decided it was best to get a free standing one that could be moved with whoever wants to take ownership of it at the next place. We also don’t have much garden space so we couldn’t get anything too big so we went with a tumbling system. Unfortunately, plastic-free composting systems are limited and while the tumbling system is made from plastic, it's recycled plastic and is a system that you will have with you for life, and can be taken with you no matter where you move. These also work well on apartment balconies as they don't take up too much space! 

It’s recommended to set these up on a flat surface and in a sunny spot with some shelter to help with the composting process but....we live on a hill and are limited with flat surface areas that get direct sun so we’ve had to set ours up on a slant (we’ll see how this goes!). 

Getting set up is pretty simple. You need a good balance of carbon aka "brown" and nitrogen aka "green" components. As we were already collecting our food waste we had the green part covered. 

Next thing to tackle was the brown. We started a system to collect cardboard, paper and leaves outside of our usual recycling bin. We put a tub by the backdoor and added shredded cardboard and paper until we had filled it! With a tumbler system it's recommended that around 3/4 of your compost is made up of brown materials and 1/4 is green so that compost is balanced. 

Once we had enough of the brown component we added them both to the tumbler! We added the browns first, and then the greens.

The other two vital elements of compost are water and air. Water has to be added separately and by spinning the tumbler you introduce air into the compost. We added a small amount of water (about a cup) and gave the tumbler a spin - and now we wait for the decomposing to take place. 

While we’re not composting experts (yet…) we’re dedicated to giving it a go - and diverting as much of our food waste to our home composter as possible. We’ve got a notebook ready to jot down any mistakes made along the way (we know they’ll be plenty) so we can learn from them and hopefully help friends who want to set up something similar!