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Updated: Nov 12, 2021

How you throw your food away also matters. Organic matter rotting in a landfill releases methane, a greenhouse gas several times more potent than carbon dioxide. But if you compost your leftovers in a well-maintained bin that lets in oxygen, you’ll significantly reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere and the carbon in the composting organic matter will be held in the resulting soil.

Composting is also the most efficient way to reduce your household waste, as it typically represent a third of your bin, and the heaviest part.


Composting options


Council collections

Are you lucky enough to live in an area whether the council operates a food waste collection? If you do, take part. If you don’t, let your council know that you would like to have this option.

Use someone else's compost bin

ShareWaste records available compost bins, but there are not many in London. If you have a compost bin, add your name!

Get your own composter

Solutions now exist for most types of home, including apartments.

  • If you have an outside space, go for a full-fledged composter (220l for a family of 4): a hot bin will get you through the British weather, and thanks to its sealed base, it can be put on hard surfaces; the standard composter needs to be put directly on the soil, will slow down during winter, but you still get to empty it two times a year (6 months on average to get amazing soil for your plants).

  • If you have a small outside space, such as a balcony, a worm farm is more appropriate. A wormery is a container housing a colony of special worms, which digest the same food waste as a compost bin.

  • If you have no outside space, composting is more difficult. Bokashi bins can be used, but they don’t compost food waste, they ferment it; this ‘pre-compost’ then requires a compost bin to finish breaking down the food. A worm farm might work, if you are ready to have worms inside, and find a sealed one.


If you choose to have your own compost bin


Where to buy your compost bin

  • Plenty of options available online.

  • Wandsworth Council partnered with a provider to offer compost bins, worm farms, hot bins, accessories and even water butts at reduced prices. Login the GetComposting website and select the bin.

Useful resources:

Key steps to good composting:

  1. Find the right site - Ideally place your compost bin in a reasonably sunny site on bare soil. If you have to, put your compost bin on concrete, tarmac or patio slabs ensure there's a layer of paper and twigs or existing compost on the bottom so the worms and other creatures can colonise. Choose a place where you can easily add ingredients to the bin and get the compost out.

  2. Add the right ingredientsA 50/50 mix of greens and browns (see below) is the perfect recipe for good compost. Have a container available such as a kitchen caddy or old ice cream tub so that you can collect items for your compost bin from all over the house. Fill your kitchen caddy or container with everything from vegetable and fruit peelings to teabags, toilet roll tubes, cereal boxes and eggshells. Take care not to compost cooked food, meat or fish – unless you have a bin that take them.

  3. Fill it up - Empty your kitchen caddy along with your garden waste into your compost bin.

  4. Wait a while - It takes between nine and twelve months for your compost to become ready for use (unless you have a hot bin), so now all you need to do is wait and let nature do the work. Keep on adding greens and browns to top up your compost. If you can, help the process by turning it every week.

  5. Ready for use - Once your compost has turned into a crumbly, dark material, resembling thick, moist soil and gives off an earthy, fresh aroma, you know it's ready to use.

  6. Removing the compost - Lift the bin slightly or open the hatch at the bottom and scoop out the fresh compost with a garden fork, spade or trowel.

  7. Use it - Don't worry if your compost looks a little lumpy with twigs and bits of eggshells - this is perfectly normal. Use it to enrich borders and vegetable patches, patio containers or feed the lawn.



  • Grass cuttings

  • Vegetable peelings, salad leaves and fruit scraps

  • Old flowers and nettles

  • Tea bags (without plastic)

  • Coffee grounds and filter paper

  • Spent bedding plants

  • Rhubarb leaves

  • Young annual weeds (e.g. chickweed)

  • Crushed egg shells

  • Egg and cereal boxes

  • Corrugated cardboard and paper (scrunched up)

  • Toilet and kitchen roll tubes

  • Garden prunings

  • Twigs and hedge clippings

  • Straw and hay

  • Bedding from vegetarian pets

  • Ashes from wood, paper and lumpwood charcoal

  • Sawdust and wood chippings

  • Wool

  • Woody clippings

  • Cotton threads and string (made from natural fibre)

  • Feathers

  • Old natural fibre clothes (cut into small pieces)

  • Tissues, paper towels and napkins

  • Shredded confidential documents

  • Corn cobs and stalks

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