Plus, our favorite composters for beginners.
What is compost?
Compost is a mix of decomposed organic materials — think plant parts and food scraps, like peels and shells. These materials are naturally broken down through water, oxygen, and organisms to create a healthy new soil amendment. Adding compost to your soil helps it to better retain moisture and nutrients.
How does it help the environment?
Not only will your garden love this nutrient-rich addition, but composting is also great for the planet by keeping more trash out of landfills. When organic materials like food and yard waste end up buried in a landfill, they not only take up space but release a harmly greenhouse gas called methane. When you compost these materials instead, you’re helping to recycle them by growing more plants!
What can I compost?
When creating your own compost mix, it’s important to have a healthy combination of these ingredients:
- "browns" (carbon-rich materials like leaves, twigs, shredded newspaper, straw)
- "greens" (nitrogen-rich materials like produce scraps, coffee grounds, and yard clippings like cut grass)
You should also avoid composting and meat products, bones, dairy products, pet waste, and fatty foods.
How can I start composting?
Many communities have their own local drop-of compost sites, like at a farmer’s market, or offer curbside pick-up. If your community doesn’t provide these services, here’s where you can find out how to request them.
If you’re dropping off at a site, a good tip for storing your scraps is to save them in an empty container, like a yogurt tub, and store the tub in your freezer. This will help you avoid any odors and pests. If you have curbside pick-up, you may be able to request a special bin for throwing in your scraps.
It’s also quite simple to compost in your own backyard -- literally! Check out our 7 steps to building your compost heap here or see what some of our favorite composters are for every kind of space from tiny apartments to big backyards.
Sunwood Life Bokashi Compost Kit
Good for: small indoor spaces
Bokashi is a Japanese method of composting that essentially ferments your organic waste with the help of a bran. This starter’s kit is not only great for those new to composting, but anyone who wants to learn more about the increasingly popular method of composting. Included in the kit is a five-gallon bucket (made from recycled plastic), bokashi bran, a pail for collecting your scraps, and filters to keep out odors.
Worm Farm Composter
Good for: small to medium indoor spaces
Vermicomposting, a process that involves the help of earthworms to decompose waste, is another great way to start composting. One of its many perks? Composting with worms is often a much quicker process that conventional methods. It can also continue through any kind of weather condition, given you have a supply of worms (not included). This stylish, portable, two-trayed contraption allows you to create a self-sustaining compost cycle; fill one tray up with your scraps and switch out when full. This lets the first batch of scraps mature while you start on your second batch. There’s even a handy tool for dispensing compost tea, which you can pour straight onto houseplants for a healthy boost.
Oggi Stainless Steel Compost Bin
Good for: small indoor spaces
For when you need to collect your scraps before dropping them off at a collection site or adding to your backyard compost pile, this handy bin helps keep waste neat and odor-free. Perfect for any countertop, with its sleek, crack-resistant exterior, the bin can hold up to 1.5 gallons of scraps. Charcoal filters help maintain odors and keep out pests.
Good for: small to medium outdoor spaces
Perfect for porches or patios, this compact composter (no need to assemble!) is simple to use and great for beginners. Simply add your scraps into the drum, rotate the drum every few days — it spins along its base — use your compost, and repeat. You can also collect compost tea or drain it into the ground as you empty the drum in your garden. Made in America out of BPA-free plastic, the composter can collect up to 35 gallons of organic waste and also comes with a 5-year warranty.
Yimby Tumbler Composter
Good for: medium to large outdoor spaces
It you have a bit more room outside to set up your composter, this tumbling option is a great way to go. Made from rust-free steel and BPA-free plastic, the composter has aeration holes and two compartments to allow for multiple batches to compost at a time. Open the door to add in your scraps and close to rotate a few times every 2-3 days. Place the composter in a sunnier spot to help accelerate the process.
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