We started composting at my house not because I’m on a mission to save the Earth, but because my daughter shamed me into it. Her elementary school has been composting all the students’ lunchtime scraps and educating them on why it’s important to do so, and my daughter has come home bursting with information on why we should be composting at home. After awhile, I decided to give it a shot.
There’s all sorts of ways you could go about composting, and I chose the simplest method that I found online – no worms necessary. First, we set up a small container on the kitchen counter for gathering fruit and vegetable scraps. Then we bought a plastic, cylinder-shaped outdoor garbage can that came with a clasping lid. We drilled quarter-inch holes all over the garbage can so that the contents would be aerated. (For other compost bin design ideas, check out Composting Guide‘s comprehensive list.)
Next we started throwing in compostable garbage, which comes in two forms: “green” materials that produce nitrogen (such as food scraps and cut grass) and “brown” materials that produce carbon (such as fallen leaves and shredded paper or cardboard). The trick is to maintain a working balance of green and brown. If you find that your pile is getting too stinky, add more brown. If it isn’t decomposing fast enough, add more green. Don’t compost meat, dairy or bread products, which attract animals and will quickly turn your pile into a smelly mess. If you stick with veggie and fruit scraps for your green materials, the pile is surprisingly not stinky at all. Recycle Now offers a straightforward list of what you should and shouldn’t compost.
Once a week, we secure the lid of the garbage can tightly, lay it on its side, and roll it back and forth so that the contents are well mixed. The garbage will decompose on its own without the mixing, but it’ll happen more quickly this way. Pretty soon you should have some nice, nutrient-rich material to use in your garden or yard. It took us about a month to start to see results. My daughter is pretty excited about the whole thing.
Oh, and one happy side effect of composting? My kids have started eating more fruits and vegetables because they’re keen on throwing the peels and stems into the compost pile. Everyone wins!