You want to compost my WHAT?

Filed in Blog by on October 22, 2012 18 Comments
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How to make worms happy, zero waste style

Today’s post is inspired by Jen from Attempting zero waste in a military household

Little Miss Green has a glorious mane of hair.

A cross between Mr Green’s (thick, luxurious) and mine (not too curly, not too straight), LMG took about 4 years to grow anything other than fluff.

Honestly I thought at one stage it would *never* grow and that we’d be sending her to school with a hat on to keep her head warm.

By the time she was four, she had eventually grown beautiful ringlets which reached all the way to her, erm, chin.

Very much like this, funnily enough:

Little Miss Green with beautiful wavy hair

What you might not be aware of is LMG’s strong will and tenacity.

She’s a powerful girl, a non-conformist who believes all boundaries and rules are to be tested for strength.

As any parent will testify; most children take a pair of scissors at some point in their lives and cut off a bit of fringe, right?

Well Little Miss Green did indeed go through this rite of passage and greeted me one morning looking like this:

Sporting the pixie cut…

Oh how this mama wept (in between the tears of laughter of course).

Did I mention this striking grade three cut was administered a week before she started school?

Lesson learned she never cut her hair again ( I don’t think she’d actually seen me cry before that event) and never really had it trimmed so eventually, this year, it ended up like this:

A beautiful mane for our favourite lioness

Now I don’t know if there is a ‘starting a new school’ theme or something going on, but Little Miss Green decided this year she was going to have her hair cut before moving up to secondary school.

So I took her to my friend who made a fine job of taking a few inches of the length:

Little Miss Green’s beautiful locks

And before I’d got my diary out for another appointment my friend had scooped up all the hair, ready to get rid of I guessed:

Thank you very much; I’ll hang onto that…

But no, she didn’t open her bin – she trotted off into the garden and…

Added it to the wormery – genius!

What a fantastic zero waste outing it turned out to be! My friend no longer needs to buy coir matting for her worms; they’re happy with some cardboard and her customers’ hair! And in a few weeks Little Miss Green’s hair will have turned into this:

Ready for the garden…

What about you; what wonderful things do you add to your compost heap / wormery?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (18)

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  1. Tracey says:

    I would request that, if you have long hair (and are composting after taking it out of a brush and it’s still long), please snip it into smaller pieces before composting.

    I get really worried that my long hair will end up wrapped around some poor bird / animal’s foot and cut off the circulation. Pigeons who end up with club-feet usually end up that way because they’ve got it wrapped in something like string, hair, wire, etc., which has cut off the circulation.

    My hair, which now reaches down to my bum(!) gets snipped into smaller bits before getting composted… :)

    On another note – to be honest, the “pixie cut” looked fab too – totally cheeky! :D

  2. nicola baird says:

    I sometimes put hair into the compost bin, sometimes hang it out as nesting material – but hadn’t thought of snipping it up as Tracey above suggests. Will do that from now on. Thanks, Nicola http://homemadekids.wordpress.com

  3. Hazel says:

    My children get their hair cut at home (by a friend, not me) and I always sweep it up and put it into the compost bin.
    Dog and cat hair goes in too.

    My most spectacular ‘compostees’ were a pair of worn-out jeans (just the pockets and some stitching left) and an old ‘Ali Baba’ style laundry basket (disappeared completely).

  4. ania says:

    Did Little Miss do that all on her own? Or was the pixie cut photograph taken after you cleaned it up a bit? If she did it on her own, I have to say that behind your tears must have been a little awe at her skills! It looked so cute.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @Tracey: Tracey, that’s something I’d never even considered; thanks for the thoughtful comment!

    @Hazel: Oh yes my friend; that’s hardcore composting for sure!

    @ania: I agree; that haircut wasn’t touched; it was all her own work – pretty creative!

  6. Jane says:

    I think that Little Miss Green made an excellent job of cutting her hair. Very impressive. I compost all sorts of things. Apart from the obvious garden and kitchen waste, things I add to the compost heap include hair from brushes and combs, cat fur, nail cuttings, used cat litter, the neighbour’s chicken manure, any used tissues or bits of cotton wool, used matches and tooth picks, off cuts of cotton thread, old rags that are too tatty to use again, old bits of string that are beyond reuse (cut into pieces – although I had never thought of cutting hair into pieces), bits of fluff, floor sweepings, and any bits of paper that cannot be recycled because they are wet or dirty. In addition to putting tea leaves in the compost, I also add any dregs of tea from cups or the tea pot.

  7. Ann says:

    I think LMG looked priceless with her “cut”! and lovely with it long!
    Last month, we built some raised beds for vege gardening (now I can’t get down to the ground so easily): first newsprint, then pizza boxes (cardboard), then horse poo, straw, seaweed, human hair (scrounged from the hairdresser), more straw, compost, and finally a little soil :- already peas beans are coming up, and lettuce plants are settling in. (Yes, it is early spring here in New Zealand).
    Normally, nearly everything is composted: old cotton underwear, jeans, hair, nail clippings, all vege waste, tea leaves/bags, coffee grounds, grass clippings (electric mower), personal papers, probably other things I have overlooked, all cut/torn up small, makes for the most amazing compost, just feels like soil, and grows anything we plant.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Sounds like your compost heap is in fine fettle, Jane! Thanks for sharing all the additions you make to yours.

    @Ann: Thanks Ann. Love the sound of your new raised beds; they sound very happy and well looked after and I hope your hard work is rewarded in a good harvest!

  9. @Jane: hello jane, may i send some cautionary words about the very real threat of toxoplasmosis from cat litter?..this is a latent or active protozoan which is carried and disseminated via feline faeces…need i say that your odds would be better if you disposed of the litter in a less than zero way? sorry to alert you to such a problem..soil borne disease is a stubborn fact…i am a staunch composter of all things organic–err..except cat leftovers..

  10. hair-hair! more hair..i season my compost with my husband’s beard clippings…short and stout little stubs, good for the soil, and the birdies..
    LMG is so fortunate to have such a caring mom..and vice-versa..great hair long or short..

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @nadine sellers: Thanks Nadine; I had wondered too about the toxoplasmosis from cat litter. Is it ok, in your opinion, to separate the solids and compost the litter that has got wet? I understand too we shouldn’t flush as the toxins can harm sealife; is that right?

  12. Contents of the hoover get composted here. Love LMG’s perschool pixie cut!

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @sarah@everydaylifeonashoestring: Ah yes, good call Sarah – we have wooden floors so dustpan and brush contents end up composted too :)

  14. Jane says:

    Thank you Nadine for your advice. I hope you will not be offended if I do not take it. Like you, I used to avoid composting cat litter in case of toxoplasmosis. However, 2 things changed my mind. The first thing was realising that our cats – not to mention the neighbours’ cats, and the local feral cats (who are probably more risky) – all deposit their – ahem – waste liberally around our garden every day. Therefore, the garden is already full of cat waste whether we like it or not. The second was finding out that toxoplasmosis will only survive a year or so in the garden, and will be killed much quicker – probably within the hour – in a temperature of just under 50 degrees celsius. 50 degrees is also sufficient to kill round worms, etc. Higher temperatures will kill it much quicker. As long as your compost heap reaches at least 50 degrees (and ours certainly gets too hot to touch) and you leave the compost to mature for a year after it stops being hot, any toxoplasmosis and any other nasty things in the compost will be killed. Therefore, I think our compost is probably safer than our garden soil. The only time we do not compost cat litter is for a week after the cats have their worm tablets (to avoid killing the worms in the compost). However, I realise that a lot of people do not like to compost cat waste and that a lot of internet sites advise against it. I am sorry if I have caused any controversy. I would also not want to encourage anyone to compost cat litter if they were not comfortable doing so. 2 other things to consider are that if a cat is infected, it stops shedding the toxoplasmosis eggs within 3 weeks and will not ever do so again (therefore, for most of its life your cat is not a toxoplasmosis risk) and that most people who get toxoplasmosis do so from undercooked meat. I think that composting cat waste used to be more common years ago than it is now. My parents always used to compost cat waste – although they used garden soil in the litter tray rather than cat litter. Assuming that you want to be on the safe side and avoid composting solid cat waste to avoid any possible risks from toxoplasmosis, then the advice given is that it is fine to compost the rest of the litter (after removing solid waste) provided that you use compostable litter and remove the solid waste from the litter at least once a day. I have recently read somewhere that you should not flush cat waste because toxoplasmosis is not killed by the sewage treatment process so toxoplasmosis could be released into the sea. I had always assumed that the sewage system was ideal for any such waste but clearly not. After typing this, I am also wondering what the effect on the environment is of sending cat waste to a landfill site. I suppose a good place to dispose of it is on a fire (if you have one), on a daily basis, but I do not know how well it would burn.

  15. Sooz says:

    My hairdresser always puts the hair in the compost bin, which is quite often very full, so all the hair pokes out and looks like their might be a head in there!

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Thanks for such an informative reply Jane; like many things there are good arguments for all sides of the story. Good to hear about other people’s experiences and opinions.

    @Sooz: Oh sooz; just in time for halloween – sounds gruesome!!

  17. well thanks jane for saving me a long reply process–i had considered the different uses of pet offal..i do use chicken cleanings or rabbit when available..and i do make sure that all organisms are working properly..by adding fresh soil and woods humus to the mixture before composting..and i never grow anything in that until i can smell the fresh earth test.. which signals all is well in the clean dirt..

    any carnivore or omnivore will drop some undigested proteins and those will be harmful if not processed by air-water and thermogenic activity..
    ok, i don’t run out with my handy thermometer and poke at the compost pile at midnight..but i know when the process is complete by sight and sniff..
    i leave lemon skins around to discourage the multitude of feral creatures here..a dash of cayenne seems to have helped as well..

  18. I would never put my hair in the compost since it is colored regularly.

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