Sunday, 9 May 2010

Out and about during Compost Awareness Week 2010...

It was the last day of Compost Awareness Week yesterday and we had a great time in the Ulverston sun, talking to people about all things compost-related (and some things that weren't compost related!). The Recycle for Cumbria team did several events around the county during the week, a list of which is on our website's event pages.

Here's Katharine on the stall again (there are other members of staff in the team, honest! In fact, there's photographic evidence here and here), ready to talk about the different properties of male and female urine and which is best to put on a compost heap (I blame the National Trust for that particular discussion)...
Sunshine at the Ulverston Compost Awareness Week roadshow
But we didn't just talk about wee all day... there were lots of discussions about good composting techniques, questions about what can be composted and plenty of interest in Cumbria's new county-wide subsidised compost bin offer.

Mmm... subsidised compost bins...
Compost bins at a Compost Awareness Week roadshow
The theme for this year's Compost Awareness Week was 'give it a grow', with the aim of encouraging people to try something new. We wanted to persuade people who'd never made compost at home before to give it a try and we also hoped to encourage those that were already keen composters to put something extra into their compost bin.

Lots of people don't realise that you can compost such a wide range of things, so its great to surprise someone with a new composting suggestion. Human (or animal) hair and the contents of your vacuum bag? Shredded paper and cardboard toilet roll tubes? Tea bags, coffee grounds and egg shells? All good ingredients for a compost heap!

There's a great list of everything that can be composted (plus the things that shouldn't be, although that list is quite short) here. Its from the composting pages of the Recycle Now campaign website and the list is conveniently split into 'greens' and 'browns'. This is simple composting-speak for the wetter, nitrogen-rich things (greens) and the drier, carbon-rich things (browns) that can go in a compost bin. A happy heap has a 50/50 mixture of greens and browns.

Here's part of the display on our information stand...
Posters and information about home composting
We had lots of useful information to give people about making compost at home, plus some Love Food, Hate Waste leaflets and a selection of tempting (and useful) freebies, including pens and pencils made from recycled plastic, colourful compost-related fridge magnets and some brilliant promotional packets of lettuce seeds (spread out along the front edge of the table).

A company called Suttons provide a service where you can design your own 'custom' seed packet and fill it with a choice of several vegetable or flower seeds. We had some packets made with a composting design, following the 'give it a grow' theme and promoting the idea of making compost at home (as well as giving our website and helpline numbers) on the back of the pack.

We went for lettuce seeds because they're so easy to grow and can be grown in a pot or indoors if people don't have much space. I think they look really good...
Promotional lettuce seeds
And they were certainly popular 'giveaways'. We always like to try and choose promotional items that are useful and made from recycled materials where possible. It would be crazy to promote waste prevention with useless items that end up in the bin!

The lettuce seeds also linked well with the other aims of the Compost Awareness Week 'give it a grow' theme, which included encouraging people to try growing some of their own food (like lettuce!) and promoting the benefits of peat-free compost over the more traditional peat-based version, which can be very environmentally damaging. Peat-free compost is often made from the garden waste collections what many councils provide, so encouraging people to use that in their gardens is a nice way to close the recycling loop.

So that's it! Another week of roadshows over till next time (which will be Recycle Week at the end of June). I'll leave you with a picture of our leaflet holder, Billy the composting kid and his slightly disturbing blank stare...
Billy at a Compost Awareness Week roadshow

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