How to save the world with a Bokashi?
That sounds a little over-confident, but in my search to help save my personal surrounding world, I came across Bokashi. And it helped me a lot.
You may be wondering: what the hell she is talking about? Bokashi sounds fancy and Japanese, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s a bin. It is a composter for your home.
Moving from Berlin to Cork, Ireland was quite a change last year. As a passionate environmentalist, I soon learned that, at least on first glance, there was nothing really environmental about my new city. While Berlin is nowadays full of green ideas, vegan food, zero waste shops and just in general loads of trees and parks; in Cork, I even struggled to find my vegan basics like tofu. The most shocking part, however, was when I moved into my new apartment house and there was just one single bin in our flat. One bin where my three flatmates and I were supposed to put all our waste inside. Like, all our waste.
For me, it was just unimaginable to put glass together with my leftovers, so I started to search in the hope of finding environmental alternatives to keep my carbon footprint at a reasonable level.
The first thing I discovered, was that we actually had two different bins in front of our house and a glass container in our block, hidden at the backside of another small house. Almost criminal to give about 600 people just one small glass container and then hide it.
But even then, I was stuck with my food waste, which I didn’t want to put with the ‘general’ waste. We had some grass and flowers in front of our windows, but I wasn’t sure what would happen if I started burying my waste in the ground in front of our house.
Luckily the gardening society of my university held an event soon afterwards on composting, where they introduced us to this fancy Japanese composting method – the Bokashi method.
In your Bokashi bin, for every two inches of waste, you add a scoop of Bokashi bran. This powder, consisting of bacteria, magically turns your food waste into nutrient-rich soil, which you can then spread. It was the perfect solution.
I was immediately taken by the idea. I started to fill a spare Bokashi-bin from the gardening society with leftovers and the magic powder, sealed it and gave it two weeks to ferment the organic waste. Two weeks later, I looked eagerly into the bin – but what I saw was the same food as before, now just covered with white mould.
This was when my logic and the knowledge from my environmental studies came back. Of course there couldn’t be a powder able to magically turn leftovers into good, nutritious soil. All the bran could do was to anaerobically digest and decay the material, so that it would faster degrade on a normal compost.
Today, I am still holding on to my Bokashi bins, bringing the food waste every time the bins are ready to the Community Garden in my street. The thing is, that the people there are very happy that their compost is not just filled with leaves and bricks and I’m happy that the ‘waste’ is not wasted.
From my experience, I cannot say yet whether the quality of the compost will improve due to the food waste with the magic powder on it, but I definitely can say that there are a lot of people outside who might be happy about you giving them your food waste (with or without magic powder).
Over the year I learned that an environmental solution can be best found by trying out things and by talking to people.
I feel that my food waste is more useful and can help more, where it is now.
If you want to become a composter, you can also search for other home- composting methods online. There are beautiful balcony- composters out there which are just waiting for your food waste.
About the Author: Saskia Bacher is currently studying Geoecology at the University College Cork, and also works for the Polar and Marine Research Institute in Germany.