Composting as you never knew it…
One of the best things to do to reduce the amount of material going into the bin is to compost the organic stuff. Composting is the process of speeding up the breakdown of biodegradable kitchen and garden waste to create organic fertiliser. One third of household waste including vegetable peelings, tea leaves, eggshells and shreddable paper and card is compostable. This return of nutrients to the soil eliminates the need for chemical fertilisers and reduces the formation of methane gas in landfill sites. Using compost on your garden also avoids the need for peat from bogs full of rare wildlife. It is easy to establish a composter in the garden and ‘worm bins’ enable waste to be composted on a balcony or in a shed.
But is kitchen and garden waste the only thing that can be composted?
Depending on your local council, you may already receive biodegradable bags to use in your compost bin, which your council will pick up every week. Most people will fit these into a small caddy kept in their kitchen to throw away food scraps and waste. However, with growing knowledge through campaigns like Environmenstrual, it is evident that the kitchen is not the only place in the house where compostable waste could be collected.
Tampon Compost Bin?
If you are someone comfortable with using 100% cotton tampons and know you shouldn’t be disposing of them down the toilet, there is likely to be a struggle to not just throw them in the bin already sitting in your bathroom. We all have different living arrangements, so not everyone will be comfortable cradling a used tampon in some semi-discrete fashion all the way to the kitchen, dodging family or housemates as they go. Of course, with more open discussion about periods in general, doing this shouldn’t necessarily be a walk of shame, but let’s consider more accessible ways to be able commit to environmentalism. After all, disposing of tampons in an ordinary landfill-destined bin means they will not be in the right conditions in order to biodegrade properly, and tampons already take 6 months to biodegrade in the right conditions.
Some people have suggested simply using a paper bag in the bathroom, placed by the toilet. This is certainly a cheaper, minimal impact option as the paper bag will also compost and if you aren’t one of the lucky people able to get compostable bags from your local council, purchasing the bags can be quite expensive. Though as with any composting, there is the possibility of odours from the biodegrading process and with less people sharing a bathroom, that paper bag could be there for a while before reaching full capacity… Not to mention – someone has to say it – paper and used tampons aren’t exactly going to stay dry. Sorry, not sorry.
The other option I would recommend is just take advantage of the existing compost bins sold for kitchens – so what if bathroom compost bins don’t exist yet? (Let’s be honest, capitalism is going to want to get its hands on that selling opportunity anyway) There’s no obvious reason for them to be designed differently. In having the conversation with your fellow house dwellers about bathroom composting, the presence of a relatively discrete ‘bin-appearing’ compost bin could be more persuasive than an open paper bag. As I mentioned earlier, the bathroom is a place where plenty of compostable waste is produced that isn’t just tampons. Hair that you collect from your hair brush or comb, or even when shaving, could go in a compost bin. Broken nails, 100% cotton wipes (although you can easily save money by switching to use reusable natural breast pads instead) paper and cotton buds, the remnants of your wooden toothbrush (take care to check if the bristles are biodegradable too) – they can all be composted! With all of that use and the fact that most kitchen compost bins have odour prevention design features, what is actually stopping you from composting in your bathroom now?
First, before any compost bin can be purchased, you will need compost bags. These can be purchased online from somewhere like evengreener.com where you can get 26 small caddy liners for 3 pounds (excluding delivery).
Now comes the discussion about buying another plastic product when we’re supposed to be cutting down on plastic. Well, I will say that this is one purchase that you ought to be prioritizing the longevity of andenables you to consume less plastic. However, there are metal options out there if that would make you happier, such as this one by the brand Kilner
Or for a slightly higher price, you could choose this white alternative, to make it more inconspicuous in the bathroom:
Green or black plastic indoor compost bins can be found anywhere online for a cheaper price, but for the biggest variety in colour (pink compost bin anyone?), size and design, I would recommend taking a look at wayfair.co.uk. They even have a nifty foot pedal compost bin, and a plastic one that comes with 120 bags
So will you be composting your tampons?