Safety note: Always wear masks and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when handling commercial or home-made compost as it can contain legionella bacteria. Check out the Worksafe guidelines.

Use Council's composting subsidy voucher to help you put your food and garden scraps to work. Not only can you save money on your waste bills and create compost for your garden, but it’s also a great way to take personal action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by keeping foodwaste out of landfill. Details of the participating retailers and the type of products they sell are given on the coupon.

Composting kitchen and garden waste could halve the amount of weekly household rubbish you produce, and save money. You don’t have to pay for so many bags or bin loads, plus your garden will not need as much watering and will deliver a bumper crop of vegetables or flowers. It’s nature’s way of recycling unwanted food scraps and garden waste.

Why compost?

There are lots of reasons to start composting - here’s just a few of them!


  • Saves you money
  • Enriches your soil by increasing organic material and the amount of water it can hold, fertility, and a number of beneficial microbes and earthworms
  • Uses local resources instead of imported compost
  • Reduces the need for chemical fertilisers in your garden
  • Reduces the harmful effects of organic rubbish in landfill e.g. organic waste rots down in landfill anaerobically (without oxygen) producing methane, a serious greenhouse gas
  • Extends the life of landfills by reducing the volume of rubbish

Compost Vs Landfill

Nelson City Council is keen to encourage residents to compost instead of throwing scraps and garden waste in the rubbish. A subsidy is available to help with the purchase of a compost bin, worm farm, worms or an EM Bokashi system. The subsidy is available to every household in Nelson. A handy composting guide is also available for download (2.3MB PDF).

beginners guide to composting promo

Check out our Beginner's Guide to Composting video.

Methods of Composting

Methods of Composting has more about composting, worm farming and the EM Bokashi system.

home composting small quantities

Have you got kitchen scraps but no time or space to compost them?

Sharewaste connects people who want to recycle their kitchen scraps but don’t have either the space or the time, with local people who are already composting or can use scraps for worm farming or chickens.  Sharewaste is supported by Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council.

If you are accepting other people's food scraps and would like a Sharewaste sticker for your letterbox contact

Ministry of Health Safe Gardening Guidelines

  • Minimise the amount of dust when working in the garden. Wear a dust mask so that any dust is filtered out before you can breathe it in
  • Water gardens and indoor plants using a gentle spray
  • Read the warning label on bagged composts or potting mix
  • Wear gloves
  • Dampen potting mixes before use. Open bags of soil products slowly, away from the face, in a well-ventilated area
  • Make sure the working area is well-ventilated (glasshouse, potting shed)
  • See a doctor if you develop a flu-like illness that is worsening
  • Wash hand thoroughly after gardening or handling soil products


Legionellosis (or Legionnaires’ disease) is a form of pneumonia. It’s caused by a bacteria called legionella, an environmental organism that lives in moist conditions. You can catch the disease by inhaling airborne droplets or particles containing the bacteria. There has been no reported person to-person spread of legionellosis.

The illness may be mild or severe and can sometimes be fatal. It is more common in older people, particularly if they smoke, have poor immunity or have a chronic illness, and those with compromised immune systems are at increased risk of infection. To reduce the risk of exposure to legionella:

  • minimise the amount of dust when working in the garden
  • water your garden and indoor plants using a gentle spray
  • read the warning on bags of composted potting mixes
  • wear gloves when handling soil, mulches, compost or potting mix
  • wear a face mask when opening bags or using potting mix and compost to avoid inhaling dust
  • open bags of soil products or composted potting mixes slowly and away from the face
  • dampen potting mixes before use
  • make sure the working area (glasshouse, potting shed) is well ventilated
  • avoid touching your face when handling soil, compost or potting mix
  • always wash your hands after handling soil, compost or potting mix, even if gloves have been worn.

See your doctor immediately if you develop a flu-like illness that is worsening. Antibiotics are effective against legionellosis if given early.


Tetanus is a serious illness at any age. Animal manures may contain this organism and it can be picked up through broken skin and puncture wounds.

  • Keep cuts, scratches and grazes covered while working in the garden. Make sure that any injury is immediately and thoroughly cleaned.
  • Tetanus vaccine has been given to children since 1960. If you have not had a course of three doses of tetanus and diphtheria vaccine as a child or adult, see your doctor or practice nurse. Adults need a booster of tetanus-diphtheria vaccine at ages 45 and 65.

For more information on staying safe while enjoying your garden, download a free copy of the Ministry of Health’s booklet, ‘Keeping safe when gardening and handling compost’ (HE4605)