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January 26, 2022

Community Composting: Cool Seats Turn Food Waste into Beautiful Gardens While You Sit

Meghan Grech
Community Composting: Cool Seats Turn Food Waste into Beautiful Gardens While You Sit
Lowering your carbon footprint has never been more relaxing.

Composting our leftovers is nothing new: it’s an important way of keeping some of Australia’s 7.6 million tonnes of annual food waste out of landfill and transforming it into more useful soil. While many compost bins are an ugly, smelly necessity, an amazing project in New South Wales is taking the process to a whole new level. Introducing Cool Seats, a community composting solution that allows you to kick your feet up and enjoy the very plants that your food scraps are helping grow.

Food waste is a surprisingly huge problem for the environment right now. Estimates suggest that if global food waste was its own country, it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, behind only China and the USA. This is because food waste stuck in landfills has less access to oxygen under the piles of rubbish, meaning that the decomposition process produces a huge amount of methane gas. In contrast, composting provides more air flow, cutting down on carbon emissions and allowing creatures like worms to turn the scraps into rich soil that can be used for new growth.

While many composting bins are large, black tubs that are best left hidden away, Cool Seats are a more practical, stylish way of responsibly using your food scraps. The timber bench fits up to three people, but lifting the seat reveals a compositing box for you to tip in your food and garden waste. The compartment is surrounded by air on five sides and is designed to minimise odours while worms break down your food waste over four to six weeks. The resulting soil can then be scooped directly into the garden bed built around the seat, where beautiful flowers, fruits, and veggies can grow to provide a wonderful, green backdrop. Not only does the surrounding garden help the seat look great, but it cools the footpath around it, making sitting on the bench an all-the-more enjoyable experience.

The Cool Seat is a particularly useful innovation for cafés, who can grow fresh ingredients, save money on council rubbish collection, and provide customers with unique seating in just one design. During a recent two-year trial in Sydney and regional NSW, the benches proved very popular at local eateries as well as outside libraries, in community gardens, and along public footpaths, where the whole community was able to responsibly dispose of their food scraps. Plans are currently in the works to bring the seats to playgrounds, school yards, and even private homes, with hopes to develop a kit that will be easy to buy and assemble yourself. What’s more, the benches are ethically made in Bathurst from sustainable local materials, including recycled timber, Australian steel, and recycled plastic, and are designed to last fifteen years, which is more than most current composting options.

Cool Seats are an awesome innovation that reduces our carbon footprints, supports local industry, brings greenery to our cities, and gives us space to relax all at the same time! Hopefully, it won’t be long before the project’s expansion means they’ll be found around more Australian cities.

If you want to see yet another bench seat that tackles our waste problem, check out our article on Replas, the Australian manufacturer turning single-use plastics into furniture and play equipment.

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