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Feature - Issue #1

The Compost Connection

Words by Anna Kary
Photography by Ashten Macdonald

Realising that their way of life was affecting both the planet and their own physical and mental health led Amandine, Benoit and their friends to change their lifestyle.

Could worms be considered pets? This wasn’t something Amandine Paniagua and Benoit Chabord every imagined themselves having to ponder when they began composting in their rental home in a city fringe suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, which has a strict policy prohibiting pets. Both originally from France, Benoit works in IT, while Amandine is an architect. But, alongside their day jobs, they also run Lagom, a website dedicated to inspiring others to live more sustainably, with their friends and housemates Tracey Creed and Eduardo Bruzzi.

Their “love story with compost” started two and a half years ago, when they moved to a townhouse apartment and started applying zero waste principles to their lives.

About half of what households in Auckland – New Zealand’s most populous city with more than 1.6 million residents – send to landfill is compostable material. The city’s food scraps alone are estimated to weigh in at about 90,000 tonnes each year.

A separate city-wide collection service for organic waste is planned for the future, but for now the local authority, Auckland Council, is investing in education about composting.

It funds an initiative called The Compost Collective, which is run jointly by two local environment trusts, EcoMatters Environment Trust and Kaipatiki Project.

Through a resource-rich website and workshops on everything from getting started to advanced composting knowledge, The Compost Collective is teaching Aucklanders how to return organic waste back to the soil naturally.

There are financial incentives for those who complete online learning or workshops, with discounts on purchases of compost systems.

Amandine and Benoit use a worm farm (left) and compost bins (right) to add organic matter to their garden soil.

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