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The Beginner's Guide to Composting

August 2022

Establishing a compost system may seem intimidating at first, but it only requires a few steps. Here is the beginner's guide, so you can successfully create your own in just one day.

WHY Should I Compost?

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Compost is simply the mixture of decomposed food waste and organic materials that can be used for fertilizer to improve the soil. Creating a composting system at home has become more popular as passion for environmental improvement rises. However, the benefits are not only environmental, it can also save you money each month. Composting:

  • Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills by 30% each year.

  • Strengthens soil quality and promotes healthy plant growth, which reduces the need to purchase synthetic fertilizers.

  • Reduces your trash bill each year since you’re throwing away less (if you’re a part of a Pay-As-You-Throw system).

  • Decreases the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (toxins) in the atmosphere by more than 50%.

Nearly anyone is able to establish their own compost system at home, whether you live in a rural or urban setting. You are able to personalize your experience according to your living situation and how much you expect to contribute each week. Compost bins can be set up on a balcony or patio, not just in a backyard (just make sure you use a container with a bottom). 

WHAT Should I Compost?

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There are two questions to ask yourself to figure out if an item is compostable:

1. Is it solely made out of nature-made materials?

  2. Does it naturally have a horrid smell if it’s left unrefrigerated?

If you answer YES to the first question and answer NO for the second question, then that item is compostable! Add it to the pile! Nonetheless, here are a few examples of things that you can compost:

  • Vegetable and fruit peels
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Paper tea bags
  • Lawn clippings
  • Houseplant trimmings, etc.

The only items that should not be added to your compost pile (things that have a bad smell if not refrigerated) are meat, cooked food, and dairy products because they can attract wild animals and parasitic insects and worms.

HOW Should I Compost?

Outdoor Essentials/Haven Cedar Compost Bin

To get your compost bin started, it only requires a few simple steps:

  1. Put the compost bin in a place that is easily accessible, but hidden from view (based on preference).

  2. Next, add leaves, green clippings, and dirt to balance the level of nitrogen and carbon. This creates a good foundation for the decay process and rotten smell later on. If you choose a bin with wooden side boards, the spaces between the boards balance the nitrogen and carbon by allowing air and water to cycle through consistently. 

  3. Next, add your food scraps and organic material to the pile. Make sure to water your compost on dry days to keep the decay process active. 

  4. Periodically, add additional leaves, green clippings, and dirt to the pile to keep the elements balanced.

  5. Expect composting to take up to 3 months. You can use decomposed materials to fertilize your flower bed and law.

If you live in an urban setting, obtaining leaves and green clippings may be difficult. Instead you can use shredded cardboard or paper towel! For dirt, look at your nearest garden center to purchase a bag (or two, depending on your bin size).

For customization, you can use up to three bins side-by-side to compost; one for each decomposition stage. If your pile builds up quickly, it may be difficult to reach the finished mixture at the bottom. With several bins, you’re able to control the amount you put in each so you can access the decomposed material for fertilizer.

To make composting easier, we have officially launched our Outdoor Essentials Haven Cedar Compost Bin! Made of natural cedar boards and black vinyl legs, it allows compost to break down faster with less rotten smell. Our product is available in two sizes to accommodate your lifestyle. And, If you’re looking to add on to your compost bin, check out our extension kits!