The joy of composting – Bokashi style

There are many things we can do to reduce waste, to consume in a sustainable way and to be conscious consumers.  In some cases the barriers are simply that we don’t know how.  The recent SCMP profile of HK Green Home eco warrior Claire Sancelot highlights that aiming for zero waste is not all that hard, if we just try and look for solutions.

One of the most widely used, and successful methods to reduce food waste content in landfills is to divert it and turn it into compost.  It is simple and rewarding and if you enjoy growing your own food, herbs, or you have plants in your home or office, they will thrive from the resulting soil.

Whilst composting is relatively popular, those living in apartments may assume that it is not possible.  But it is  – bokashi style.

Bokashi is ‘fermented organic matter’ and is used to cover the food waste in the bokashi bin.  The fermented organic matter helps break down the food waste and because of the microorganisms in the fermented mix odours are eliminated.  Theoretically you can add meats and diary to a bokashi bin but we limit ours to vegetable matter, fruit skin, juicing pulp if not used for making stock, coffee grinds and tea bags.  If you make kombucha chances are you have a lot of SCOBYs left over.  You can add these to your bokashi too and they will help speed up the fermenting process.

Every day a layer of the fermented material is added to the bin allowing the microorganisms to begin the job of breaking down the food waste.  Every week the contents of the bin are compressed resulting in ‘fertilising tea’ that can be strained using the tap at the bottom of the bin, and fed to plants.  Compressing also supports the anaerobic process of fermentation by removing the oxygen in the bokashi bin.

Once full the contents should be left to ferment for about one month, sometimes two depending on whether we have room in the soil bin.  You will read everywhere that the ready bokashi bin contents must be dug into the ground to create the compost.

But I hear you ask…how is this done if you want to have access to the soil yourself and you live in an apartment?  You can read about what I do here but I’ve also put together a short video of stills on how I do it and what happens.  This last process took only 8 weeks, incredible even for me!

Bokashi composting is a great way to teach children about sustainability, composting,  fermentation, microorganisms, how worms and pill bugs do their work, the education is endless.  I cannot quantify how much organic soil I have produced in the past few years using this composting method, however an example of the success of this system was evidenced in 2010 when students from Christchurch University in NZ converted 3000 litres of food waste into 7 cubic meters of compost…..providing economic, educational and environmental benefit to many….now that is amazing.

The Joy of composting bokashi style

Bokashi bins and bokashi mix are available from the secondhand bookshop in Mui Wo. Ask for Terry Boyce. 2984 9371. Open 12pm-6pm.


Ready to start composting now?  Share you experience I’d love to hear how you get on.  

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Ingredients of Wellness is a blog that will nourish your mind and your body with wellness related research, knowledge sharing, news and inspiration.