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Reduce Your Organic Waste at home with Bokashi

Food waste is an extremely valuable resource which can regenerate our soil and contribute towards a sustainable future for our beautiful planet.

According to the local Somerset West organisation Circular Homes, 21 of the 24 landfills in the Western Cape are full or critically full and a lot of that waste is completely compostable and can be used to revive our soils, benefitting the environment.

"Our overlooked food waste stream has the potential to provide nutrients to our depleted soil, boost plant health, curb climate change and therefore secure our well-being," says Natashia de Wet, founder of Circular Homes.

She says that sending food waste to a dumpsite is the worst option as it will never break down between all the plastic rubble.

"The rotting food waste releases harmful methane gas and toxins siphons through to our precious groundwater. The heat generated gets trapped within our atmosphere and warms our planet to dangerous levels."

Globally, mankind generates about 5.5 million tons of waste every single day, harming the planet faster than nature can regenerate itself.

"We are running out of landfill space and the extra is being dumped into our oxygen-giving ocean. This waste disposal process is unsustainable," says Natashia.

First of all, what is Bokashi?

Bokashi is available in over 120 countries worldwide and was developed in 1982 by Prof. Teruo Higa. Bokashi means “fermented organic matter” in Japanese. It is a probiotic made with beneficial microorganisms (lactic acid bacteria, phototrophic bacteria and yeast) which prevent all food waste including cooked leftovers, meat, citrus, onions, bones, fat and cheese, from rotting and rather ferments it. It is an anaerobic process, meaning it wants the least amount of oxygen, so keep the lid properly closed.

Bokashi pre-composting is a two-stage method. The first two weeks involve fermentation, and then the decomposition of the food waste follows. Important to note, the “pickled” food waste inside the bin, will not be broken down yet after the two weeks of fermentation, but will be filled with millions of beneficial microorganisms. During the second stage, it is then ready to decompose in a compost heap, to be fed to a worm farm, or to be buried in highly depleted soil.

The Bokashi 'juice' or 'tea' (leachate) can be very smelly at the bottom of the bin and therefore can be tapped off and added undiluted to a compost heap or poured down the drain as a drain cleaner.

It is normal for the juice to be very smelly, as it depends on what food waste you have thrown in the bin.

The strainer in the Bokashi bin helps with the proper fermentation of food waste. The microorganisms do not like liquid and therefore cannot do their job effectively if they are flooded in leachate.

You can leave the juice inside if it is not too much until you empty the fermented food waste in your next compost heap.

When you build a compost heap, it needs both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria. Use the anaerobic Bokashi juice undiluted in the compost heap between the layers to act as a compost activator.

Alternatively use the juice undiluted in the drains as the microbes eat the sludge and keep it clean. It can be smelly, so open your windows.

Studies show that plants thrive with aerobic organisms, so rather keep your Bokashi juice away from your plants.

Bokashi Bran: A mix of microbes that accelerate the composting/fermenting process.

Bokashi Bin: This is what a typical Bokashi Bin looks like. The sieve allows nutrient-rich Bokashi "tea" (a liquid fertiliser) to gather at the bottom while the fermented food scraps stay above it. The tap allows you to harvest the tea. Both the Bokashi compost and tea can be used in your own garden or donated to programs and organisations like Circular Homes.

Benefits of Bokashi

  • Meat, fish and odorous food waste (not recommended in other composting systems) can be processed with Bokashi.

  • Little is space needed as fermentation takes place in the bucket, so ideal for offices, flats, and schools.

  • Buckets can be kept indoors as the smell is inoffensive and the buckets are air-tight.

  • It keeps food waste out of the landfill and it improves the helpful microbial activity in the soil.

  • Once dug into the soil or added to your compost it helps your food waste break down rapidly releasing the nutrients within 2-4 weeks.

  • If buried deeply enough, rats or dogs will not be attracted to the Bokashi when it’s added to your garden.

Enter Circular Homes

Circular Homes is closing the loop on all food waste through home and business Bokashi composting solutions. They focus on getting the community involved to live greener and to reuse their food waste in their own gardens or to donate it so that it can be turned into nutrient-rich compost.

Their vision is to use the produced Bokashi compost to establish bee-friendly flower parks and community vegetable gardens. This provides solutions to the alarming rate of bee colonies declining, as well as the critical landfill and climate change challenges.

"I grew up in a family where my parents used to take us on exciting bushveld adventures through Africa and taught us about the natural world. Fast forward to years later living in beautiful Cape Town, having a loving husband and two stunning kids, I wanted to do more to help create a brighter 'environmental' future for them," says Natasha.

"Unsure of where to start, I did my research and attended numerous conferences and saw the concerning bee, marine life, and landfill statistics. Everything is connected, the soil, our water, animals, plants, insects, air, and food. And the scary realization is that our human health is dependent on the wellness of all of these, yet none of these is dependent on humans.

"After speaking to my dad, who is a soil scientist, about my dream, he told me about Bokashi. To be very honest, I was sceptical at first, but with time I saw that we really CAN take our daily kitchen waste, combine it with Bokashi and generate nutrient-rich compost for bee-friendly flower and vegetable gardens, while also reducing our carbon footprint."

Natashia decided to resign and follow her heart. Circular Homes was born on her birthday, World Soil Day, on 5 December 2018. Since then one of Natashia's first Bokashi clients, Dora Wolhuter, who also became a close friend, joined the Circular Homes team.

Circular Homes services

Circular Homes offer the following services:

1. Worm Farm

They set up worm farms indoors or outdoors that can produce vermicompost and worm tea.

2. Pick-up Service

They collect fermented food waste and turn it into nutrient-rich compost for soil. They will pick up your 2-week fermented Bokashi food waste and give you an empty bin back plus 500g Bokashi. You also receive a free bag of compost for every 10 bins collected.

3. Business Solutions

They assist restaurants, office canteens and estates with their waste management needs.

Where can I buy Bokashi products?

Gram Plastic Free Grocer proudly stocks all your Bokashi needs, including bins, bran and informational pamphlets.

Get in touch with Circular Homes

Address: 19 Compacta street, Somerset West.

Contact number: 066-231 2839 / 083-292 0738



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