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Pooch goes plastic free: Bokashi Composting

This post was originally published on this site

I never thought I’d get this enthusiastic about pet poop.

It’s Plastic Free July, and in true Shift style, I’m sharing a good-looking, easy way to bring your dog to the party too! 🐶 Stick with me here.

We’ve all heard that composting is a great way to not only feed the soil, but reduce food waste that would otherwise head to landfill (where it does not actually compost!).

I’ve said before that compost is the best thing about my home garden. Everything it feeds goes crazy, and by putting kitchen scraps in there I don’t need a rubbish bin anymore (ok, so I made a few other changes too!).

But one thing was bugging me – I was still just bagging my dog Apple’s poop and chucking it straight in the wheelie bin. You can’t add animal waste to garden compost, especially if you want to use it to grow food.

Apple the pup checks out the new addition EnsoPet system

Then I found the Bokashi EnsoPet – a composting system just for pet waste. You bury most of the recycled plastic container in the ground, keeping it away from food crops, and sprinkle on a specially formulated bokashi mix to help break it down. And it’s not likely to ever fill up!

I had a chat to Bokashi Australia founder Maree O’Malley, who brought the simple micro-organism style of composting to Australia in 2004.

“Almost as soon as I started using bokashi I became quite passionate about composting – I absolutely hate to see food waste added to rubbish,” Maree said.

“I carry banana skins, apple cores – even other peoples’ – around with me while out rather than adding them to a rubbish bin, so I can add them to my compost once home.”

EnsoPet is the simple pet waste
composting system by
Bokashi Composting Australia

Though she’s a passionate composter, Maree openly admits it’s not the only style worth trying.

“I am not what you might call a natural born salesperson and I don’t hold the view that bokashi is necessarily the best composting system for everyone,” Maree says.

“But I strongly believe it is an essential inclusion in the composting options available.”

She ran me through the many benefits of this style, including:

  • No need to trudge out to the backyard compost bin – it can be done in the kitchen.
  • All organic kitchen waste can be put in there, including citrus peel, onions, dairy, meat and fish.
  • Little heat is generated, so there is no release of greenhouse gases (especially methane).
  • By fermentation (not oxidation) a higher nutrient value of the kitchen scraps is retained for feeding back into the soil. 
  • As well as the nutrients from the food waste,  bokashi compost adds life in the form of the micro-organisms.

So how does it work to bring pets along on the zero-waste journey? 

EnsoPet kit: container made from recycled plastic, Bokashi mix and tongs

She may not consider herself a natural salesperson, but Maree is certainly entrepreneurial.

“I knew that bokashi was used in composting toilets, so I thought it was logical that it would compost pet waste too,” Maree says.

“We were often asked by our customers if bokashi could be used for this purpose. So for a long time I had the idea of developing a composting system for pet waste.”

Dig a 40cm x 40cm hole and bury the container away from food plants – easy!

“With the support of Bokashi New Zealand, we developed a mix of bokashi specifically for pet waste. It has a sawdust component and more of the microbes that what is in Bokashi One.”

Learning from the original system, Bokashi One, Maree engaged an industrial designer to develop something pet waste and also shipping friendly.

I found it easy to put together, and had a good patch of garden to dig it into. Apple helped too, of course!

Now only the little lid sits out of the soil, and it’s a matter of scoop and drop – with a bokashi mix sprinkle regularly.

Another win for Plastic Free July!
–  Ash

While I was gifted the Bokashi EnsoPet system, this post is an honest reflection of my experience. It is the best way I have found to get rid of pet waste so far!

Header image credit: Lis Harvey, NICO Underwear

Happy Apple, happy Ash!