activism · eco

Top Tips for Easy Composting

Have you ever thought of or tried to compost? Not only is composting free fertilizer, it also reduces the amount of waste going into landfills. According to the EPA, food scraps and yard waste make up to 30% of what we throw away and could be composted instead, with just a few simple steps.

Compost is a natural process of decomposition that creates active organic matter, out of  materials like yard and food waste.

But, how to get started with composting? Composting is much easier than you may have thought.

  1. Do your homework. Before you start composting, make sure you understand which items and materials should be composted and how best to keep your compost balanced. Generally, you can compost items like coffee grounds, fruits and vegetables, eggshells, tea bags, nut shells, yard and grass waste, leaves and more.
What To Compost
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cotton and Wool Rags
  • Hair and fur
  • Fireplace ashes
What Not To Compost and Why
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
    • Creates odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps
    • Creates odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)
    • Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
    • Might kill beneficial composting organisms)
  • Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs
    • Creates odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies)

You’ll want to make sure you have a good ratio of greens (like vegetable and fruit scraps and yard waste) and browns (like dead leaves and twigs). Remember, water is important – you can’t compost material that doesn’t have the right amount of moisture. 

2.     Determine your composting goals.  The types of materials you put in your compost will vary depending on how you want to use it. You can use your compost in your yard or garden, or share it with friends and family for their gardens. Don’t need compost yourself? Depending on your area, you may be able to collect your food scraps and yard waste for industrial composting and work with a local provider, like Republic Services, for collection. 

3.     Assess your space. Look around your space and evaluate what you may need to start composting. You’ll want to store food scraps in a place that makes it convenient to compost while you’re cooking or cleaning your kitchen. The easier you make it to compost at home, the more likely you’ll be to do it. You don’t need a fancy scrap bucket, but make sure it has a tight seal to reduce odor. Collection in the kitchen is just one piece of the puzzle.  

4.     Get the right tools. After you’ve assessed your indoor space, you’ll want to get the tools that will set you up for success. You’ll also need a compost bin, which you can purchase or build on your own.  There are several different composters you can buy to meet your needs. Remember, you’ll need to find an outdoor space that is dry and shaded to store your compost bin. 

5.     Understand the warning signs. Once your compost is started, you’ll want to monitor for warnings signs that it is out of balance. Your compost shouldn’t attract bugs or rodents or produce a strong odor. If it is, then you’ll know that it’s time to adjust the mix of greens and browns you’re adding to your bin. Ideally, your compost should include an equal mix of green and brown material.  

Tips courtesy of Republic Services.