Composting Tips & DIY Composting

Composting is nature’s way of using fermentation to transform difficult-to-digest food scraps and compounds into useable materials for rebuilding the soil. That’s a good thing because food scraps make up 20 percent to 30 percent of what we throw away and are the largest category of municipal solid waste hauled away to the nearest landfill, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

You’d be surprised at all the materials that can be thrown into your compost container.

Here’s a Partial List:

  • Cardboard rolls from paper towels and toilet paper
  • Clean paper or newspaper, preferably shredded or torn up
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Table scraps, including corncobs
  • Rotting fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Grass clippings
  • Hair and fur
  • Cotton rags
  • Hay and straw
  • Houseplants
  • Shrub prunings
  • Fall leaves

Some things you don’t want to put in your indoor compost container are dairy products (yogurt, milk, and cottage cheese), meat scraps, fish bones, grease, and leftover oils because that will create odor problems and attract flies. Pet manure is another no-no.

While the aforementioned items are compostable, they are best incorporated into an outdoor composting operation.

DIY Composting:

The great news about composting is that you can compost just about anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you live. Even apartment and condo dwellers can compost without a back yard or balcony. All you need is a compost bin with a pair of lids, some old newspaper, food scraps, water, and a handful of worms (optional)—preferably red wigglers, the worms of choice for composting.

For Outdoor Composting:

  • Use a wooden compost bin with two lids. The second lid goes under the container to capture water drainage.
  • Shred newspaper or any printouts and then soak the paper in water.
  • Next, fill the container with half of your shredded and soaked paper until it’s filled about a third of the way.
  • Add some worms, a bit of soil, and let the container sit in the sunlight. The worms will begin burrowing into the paper.

And it all turns into rich topsoil. Astonishing what those earthworms can do, right?

If You Are Composting Indoors:

  • Use a plastic or ceramic container, again with two lids like above.
  • Bring your composting container into the kitchen, where you can store it under the sink, or someplace out of way, like a back porch, balcony, laundry room, or garage.
  • Add food scraps, burying them under your remaining paper scraps, and continue to toss in more scraps (from the list above) until everything’s well on the road to being fully composted.

Now you can witness nature’s fermentation in action with DIY composting!


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