Lena talks to us about her composting journey – she is one year into it, having come to live in New Zealand, from Europe, last year and finally having the land and space to compost.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My husband and I live in a house in Laingholm. We moved to New Zealand in 2021 from Europe, and stayed with my husband’s family for the first six months, where I had my introduction to in-home composting. We moved into our own house early this year, with a garden and space for a compost bin, and land to use the wonderful soil produced.

What composting method(s) do you use and how did you get started?

We do cold composting – I attended an online Compost Collective workshop a few months before moving to our own home, and used my voucher to purchase the bin. We had been composting at my in-laws house for a few months, and we would all just throw the food scraps in, without doing anything else. With six of us in the house, I was surprised at how the level always remained the same as the food scraps broke down.  I didn’t know about the correct balance of greens to browns, etc, at that point. I learnt this from the wonderful workshop facilitator, Judy. This was my first time ever making compost at my own home – in Europe there are kerbside food collections (for homeowners), and the odd community composting hub/garden. I did intend to compost when living in a London apartment, and had even found a secondhand worm bin. However, it became too hard for me in the tiny space we had, and I decided not to have a worm farm inside because of the potential smell, so I passed this on to somebody else.

How do you find cold composting as a composting system?

Easy! Although I did email Judy to say I was getting no actual compost after a few months. She reassured me that it can take up to three months of regularly adding material for the process to really kick off. I also now know to add not only food scraps, but also other things to make up the “brown” component. Perhaps I will look at Bokashi at a later time for scraps that cannot be added to my cold compost bin, such as bones.

How do you make composting an easy part of your everyday life?

We have a small caddy in the kitchen that we empty into the compost bin when it is full (or when it is not raining and we are happy to walk down to the corner of the garden!). I have an old dishwasher rack that is currently on the deck, under which I lay any brown cardboard I have (egg cartons, mushroom trays, boxes, etc). The rain makes this damp, making it easy to rip into small pieces and add to the compost. This was a tip I learnt from the workshop. It is an easy way to avoid cutting up all the browns into small strips, as you really need to do, and also keeps the compost damp and the worms happy.

Have you faced any challenges while composting, and what have you learnt if so?

I didn’t know where to place the compost bin when I set it up. I asked for advice on this, and was told by one of the facilitators to put it in part shade, in an easily accessible spot, with plenty of air circulation. As I mentioned earlier, I was afraid I was not doing it right as the composting process wasn’t visible, but the facilitators are so incredibly helpful and reassuring, I have been given answers to many questions. I have also found useful information on the internet, including on the Compost Collective website. If you are facing an issue, chances are somebody has already faced the same issue before and posed the question online.

What would you say to people starting their composting journey?

If you haven’t already, go along to at least one Compost Collective workshop (there is quite a variety of options). There are always other people with similar questions to you, and the facilitators are super resourceful, so ask questions. What’s more, you get a voucher giving you a big discount on a new system, and when you order this you can also get a free rat trap.

I learnt about ShareWaste when here in New Zealand, an app which brings together people who can’t make their own compost (for whatever reason – time, space) and those who can. Perhaps one day we will be able to be hosts and people can donate their food scraps to us for composting. I wish I knew about this concept when I lived in Europe and didn’t have the space.

Lastly, look at how you are using your food, some things don’t even need to find their way to the compost bin. You can do things differently to not waste as much. For example, I now scrub my carrots and potatoes, rather than peeling them, and I eat the whole feijoa and kiwifruit.



About ShareWaste NZ

ShareWaste connects people who wish to compost their food scraps with their neighbours who are already composting. You can join ShareWaste NZ at www.sharewaste.org.nz or download the app at the App Store or the Google Play Store

If you are about to start your composting journey or want to learn more about a different system, check out our free upcoming workshops on our Compost Collective workshop calendar.



leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *