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How to Compost at Home: An Easy Beginners Guide for 2021

Your new year’s resolution list is packed this year. Get back into shape? Check. Eat better? Check. Meal prep? Check. Reduce your trash collection and learn how to compost at home? Checkity, check, check!

Looking to reduce your household trash collection and create some organic, rich soil for your garden in 2021? Us too. Composting at home has tremendous environmental benefits that have gone unnoticed by most Americans for way too long.

Food waste that could otherwise be composted makes up for around 30% of what ends up in our landfills. This isn’t something that we should be proud we’re contributing to; all of the food waste cramming up our landfills creates methane, a harmful greenhouse gas that negatively affects Earth’s atmosphere. Meaning, if you’re still throwing food scraps away into your trash bin, you’re part of the problem.

Composting at home might seem like a difficult task for some, but we promise it’s not. Whether you live in the middle of nowhere or in the heart of a major city, composting is easy to do whether it be in your backyard on a larger or right on top of your kitchen counter.

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Why Compost at Home?

As mentioned, composting at home reduces the emission of greenhouse gasses. You might be thinking, “but I am just one person, if only I’m composting, nothing’s going to happen.” While it’s entirely understandable to think that way, the bigger picture works by word of mouth. By composting at home, you can express your love for compost to friends and family which will eventually lead to a multitude of people also composting.

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Composting is also a great way to create free, rich soil you can use in your outdoor garden or for indoor potted plants. Naturally composted soil helps retain moisture and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, which helps grow stronger, healthier plant life. Additionally, composted soil is naturally suppressant toward pests and plant-based diseases that might otherwise harm roots, stems or leaves.

If you do not garden or have any potted plants, tons of cities offer compost pickup or dropoff services to provide soil to local farms, public gardens and more.

What Can I Compost?

The EPA explains that in order to compost something, it must include three basic ingredients: browns, greens and water. This means you can compost items such as dead leaves, branches, grass clippings, fruits, veggies and coffee grounds. Simply add the right number of water to retain moisture within your bin and you should be good to go.

When it comes to items that are not able to compost, any dairy products, coal, pet waste and meat scraps are a no-go. Some more obvious than not, but for the most part, you don’t want to track animals to your compost.

For a full list of compostable and noncompostable items, check out the EPA’s full list on their website.

Do I Have to Compost Outside?

No, you don’t have to compost outside. Depending on your living situation, there are a multitude of products and composters available that meet your composting needs.

Larger composting containers are typically used for outside purposes and allow you to compost items that even include leaves, grass clippings, plants, hay, straw and many more products that don’t regularly exist inside the home among others.

Smaller composting containers are normally used to sit on the counter to provide a space to leave fruits, veggies, tea bags, coffee grounds, nutshells, hair, fur, vacuum cleaner lint and even more. It really depends on what you’re willing to fit inside given the size.

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How Do I Compost at Home?

As mentioned, start off by snagging the right composting container depending on where you’re planning on composting.

If you plan on composting inside, the act is relatively simple. Simply throw in the allowed items, add a little water as you add dryer substances and mix it around every so often. Everything should fully compost in around two to five weeks.

If you’re composting in your backyard, it can get slightly trickier. Choose an area that’s on the shadier, drier side and start by throwing in your greens and browns. Ensure that when you include larger items like wood chunks, you reduce their size first so they compost quicker. Additionally, you will need to water your compost whenever you include a new, dry component. Once your compost is looking like compost, feel free to add fruits and veggies by burying them in the soil whenever you add. You will need to move the contents inside around from time to time, but aside from that, simply let the compost work its magic and turn your leftover scraps into new, rich soil.

What Products Do I Need?

Before you buy a compost bin, make sure you have tools such as a shovel, a rake and a spade. This goes for both indoor and outdoor composting, but obviously, the sizes of tools will be determined by the structure you plan on composting inside.

For outdoor compost, we recommend using something on the larger side, similar to what you might already be using in your current garden at home.

For indoor compost, we recommend something on the smaller side, like this tiny toolset from w&m pictured below.

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Courtesy of Amazon

In terms of the perfect compost bin for your needs, as mentioned, that depends on where you’re choosing to keep your compost. If you’re keeping your compost in the kitchen, look no further than the 1.6-gallon compost bin from BelleMark. It’s tiny in size and comes with a lid that keeps all unwanted odors trapped inside, so you’ll essentially never know it’s even there.

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Need something on the larger side to keep in your backyard? This metal compost bin from Gardener’s is perfect for shoving in the corner of your yard and using whenever you’ve got any scraps to add. Just don’t forget to mix it around every once in a while.

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Courtesy of Gardener's

For those of you who need a little something more high-tech in your outdoor space, look no further than this 37-gallon tumbling composter that needs no shoveling whatsoever. Simply spin it around when it’s time to get mixing, and your job is done. It’s that simple.

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Courtesy of Amazon

Lastly, we can never leave you empty-handed without a good read. Michelle Balz’s recent book Composting for a New Generation: Latest Techniques for the Bin and Beyond is an excellent book for those beginning their composting journey. It gives tips, pointers and ideas for those beginning their composting process in 2021 due to its up to date information and ideas.

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