Good news: composting is way easier than you think. With minimal effort, you can turn your banana peels, lemon rinds, and egg shells into gold. In today’s article, I’m breaking down why you should compost, how to compost, and easy composting for beginners. Plus, I include a helpful break down of what should vs. shouldn’t be composted. As a novice composter myself, these tips and tricks are simple (and less gross) than you think. Now’s the time to spring clean your home—and your soil.
why should you compost?
Environmentalists could reel off a long list of reasons for keeping your food scraps and other household waste out of the trash can. For starters, compost adds nutrients and organic matter back to soil, which benefits agriculture, reduces our reliance on synthetic fertilizers, and diverts methane-producing materials from landfills. Plus, if you plan to use your compost-rich soil in your backyard, it will improve your soil’s water retention capacity. Meaning, you won’t need to water as much. Beyond the environmental benefits, below are more reasons why you should compost.
COMPOSTING REDUCES HOUSEHOLD WASTE
Did you know that the United States wastes 30-40% of its food supply each year? The average American family throws out $1,500 in food, every 12 months. And our annual food waste is valued at $161 billion Yikes. Unsurprisingly, food waste is the number one material in our landfills. With food insecurity affecting 1 in 8 Americans, the thought of this much wasted food is devastating. You can do your part by making sure you don’t let food go to waste and by composting.
IT CREATES FREE FERTILIZER FOR YOUR GARDEN
Gardens need fertilizer, but the bags of compost and other soil amendments are pricey (and not always organic). Compost turns your waste into organic soil.
IT’S fun and educational for families
My toddler loves tossing things into the compost bin for me, as well as taking our compost bag out to our alley. Toddlers and kids find composting fascinating (like gardening!). It’s educational as well, teaching them about our food’s ecosystem.
basic supplies for composting
Stick with the basics when it comes to easy composting for beginners. First, do you plan to compost with a kitchen bin or do you have space in your backyard? For the former, all you’ll need is a compost pail for the kitchen to collect scraps, compost bags, and a city-approved composting bin for collection days. Otherwise, you can start a spot in your yard for a pile. Even if you have even a small outdoor space, compost piles can be a great, low-maintenance option. Just throw your green and brown scraps in a pile in the backyard over a section of dirt or grass, and sift them when necessary. Said differently: mix equal parts of green nitrogen-rich materials (food scraps, flowers, plants) with brown carbon-rich materials (dry leaves, shredded paper, dryer lint, straw) and add water. Turn and mix regularly.
the best kitchen compost bins
Given that we’re talking about easy composting for beginners, it’s helpful to know that you have options! Whether you live in a small space or not—plan to use your compost for soil or simply prefer the city to collect it (what we do!)—you can easily make your composting routine work for your lifestyle.
do the bare minimum: Exaco ECO 2000-NP Kitchen Compost Pail
Opt for this! The easiest way to start is to collect your food scraps is in a simple composting bin. This one will minimize odor and keep fruit flies and other critters away. Most countertop compost bins come with a lid that contains a charcoal filter to reduce odors. If you’re willing to put in the extra effort (and have the freezer space), freezing your scraps before adding to a bin can also kill off any pest eggs that may be lurking!
Have Little counter space: Simplehuman Compost Caddy
If you don’t have a lot of counter space, consider getting a trash can that does it all. This two compartment bin also has an available compost caddy that can be easily attached to the side. You can have your trash and recycling sorted behind one slim-lined, stainless-steel bin—both soothing the aesthetic and functiaonl parts of your brain. This is a very eco-friendly solution.
Compost in style: Oxo Good grips compost bin
Just because you’re keen on easy composting for beginners, doesn’t mean your compost bin needs to be an eyesore. Oxo’s compost bin checks all the boxes. Plus, it looks sleek on your counter. It’s a convenient size, the lid flips up for easy filling and down to lock in odors, its smooth interior prevents foods and liquids from building up, and the rotating handle makes it easy to transport your compost outdoors.
Take advantage of your freezer: full circle freezer compost bin
This one’s genius. If you have the space in your fridge or freezer, consider Full Circle’s compost bin. It’s specifically made for the freezer, with a hook that secures it to the door. Plus, because it’s made of silicone, it’s super easy to clean.
The Best compost bags
Again, you have options! We’ve tried a few different brands. When it comes to easy composting for beginners, these are our favorites: first and foremost, BioBags. These fit compost pails up to three gallons! We have also tried FORID compostable trash bags. I love these because they don’t accumulate condensation on the sides. These compost bags, from Primod, are great because they’re extra thick. For a sturdy option, try SuperBio’s compost bags.
What can you compost?
More on what you can compost, here.
What shouldn’t you compost—and why?
The EPA has great info on what should and shouldn’t be composted. See their do-not-compost list below:
Black walnut tree leaves or twigs: these release substances that might be harmful to plants.
Coal or charcoal ash: these might contain substances harmful to plants.
Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt): these create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies. The exception—eggs.
Diseased or insect-ridden plants: diseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants.
Fats, grease, lard, or oils: these create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies.
Meat or fish bones and scraps: these create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies.
Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter): these might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans.
Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides: these might kill beneficial composting organisms.
Check with your local composting or recycling coordinator to see if these organics are accepted by your community curbside or drop-off composting program.
how to compost indoors in 6 steps
Armed with everything you need to know about composting, these are the steps you’ll take to become a pro in no time. Easy composting for beginners just got easier.
Images courtesy of Unsplash.
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