All three of Hong Kong's landfills are expected to be full by the 2030s, so we are looking for urgent solutions to reduce our everyday waste, and composting is one of them. To help guide us on our zero-waste journey, we spoke to Karen Tang, a composting expert educated by the Soil Food Web school for her tips on the most convenient ways to compost in Hong Kong.
What is your story, how did you get into composting?
For years I was looking for a small way I could contribute to environmental restoration rather than being on the wrong side of climate change. After researching many areas, there was nothing that sparked more interest and hope in me than learning about the power of soil. My goal is to help farmers regenerate their tired and degraded soils (aka dirt) so they no longer have to rely on fertilizers and pesticides to grow food. Once a healthy microbial environment is restored in the soil, plants can grow in a way that mother nature developed over millions of years.
What is composting?
Composting is the AEROBIC decomposition of organic matter to create a valuable resource that is rich in microbes and nutrients. Aerobic means that the decomposition happens in the presence of air and oxygen throughout the entire process. This is key to producing compost that regenerates soils and is not so simple to achieve.
I suggest two main options if you’re looking to compost in a small Hong Kong apartment.
1. Collect your food scraps in your freezer and then give them to a local farmer to compost. Scraps like vegetable ends, fruit peels and old bread are great but avoid meat and dairy. Another important component of composting is carbon, materials like paper, cardboard and wood. So if you have extra brown cardboard or cleaned out paper food containers (with no plastic lining), you can also offer it to your local farmer or composter. Chun Ling from Farmhouse Productions will gladly collect your pre-consumed food scraps. Find her on Instagram.
2. Try vermicomposting (worm composting). Earthworms are the most amazing creatures, they can consume up to half their weight in food everyday. And what they poop out is called worm castings aka “black gold” that is rich in healthy microbes for plants. Keeping a worm bin in a small apartment is ideally in many ways, if done correctly it doesn’t smell AT ALL, you can keep worms in a small bin that doesn’t take up much space, and you can conveniently throw your food scraps into the bin to feed your worms and create great compost. You will have to learn the ropes at first, so I would recommend contacting Gary from Lok Yin Farm on Instagram or Facebook. He regularly runs vermicomposting workshops where you can learn how to put together your first worm bin which includes worms for you to take home!