Composting is a sustainable practice that homes, businesses and communities can do to reduce their green waste. Composting is the process that breaks down food waste, lawn waste and any other bio-waste into nutrient-rich soil called compost. Food scraps and garden waste combine to account for 30% of what we throw away, so composting is an integral part of a zero-waste lifestyle.
If your community or business provides composting services, you can fill compostable trash bags and have them picked up like regular rubbish and recyclables. If you do not have this option or would rather use compost in your gardening, you can create a compost bin at home, either inside or outdoors. Soon you will be reducing waste and creating your own fertilizing soil for your garden.
The advantages of an indoor compost bin make it the most popular choice for people in regions with large seasonal weather variations and people with small gardens. This is because composting requires a controlled environment to work effectively.
To create compost quickly, the outside temperature must not inhibit the internal compost temperature. The hotter the compost, the faster it makes usable soil. People living in cold environments may want to use an indoor compost bin because the indoor temperature surrounding the bin will not inhibit its heating tendencies.
Outdoor composting can also take up more room than indoor compost bins, so people with small yards should opt for an indoor bin. There should be no unpleasant smell if the bin is made properly and the scraps layered correctly.
An indoor DIY compost bin requires a container with a lid, nylon mesh screen, drill, hot glue gun, kitchen scraps, dirt and shredded newspaper. The bin itself needs to fit wherever you want to put your composting setup, such as under the sink.
Drill five to seven holes evenly spaced in the bin lid. These holes allow oxygen into the compost and combine with the microorganisms that break down the waste. The more oxygen, the hotter the waste becomes and the faster it turns into usable compost. Not only do you get usable compost faster, but you reduce the likelihood of bad smells and flies.
If you would like, you can add holes in the side of the bin with tubes that go to the centre of the compost bin. This provides oxygen to every part of the waste to ensure adequate aeration.
Cover the ventilation holes and tubes with the mesh screen. This stops fruit flies and other unwelcome pests from infiltrating your compost bin. Use the hot glue to connect the mesh to the underside of the bin lid and the tube openings.
Start with a 2-inch deep layer of dirt and shredded newspaper. This creates a dry base that you can mix food scraps into, keeping odours to a minimum. When you add food waste, it is best to break it down into small chunks to quicken the decomposition time.
When you add significant amounts of food waste, throw in some dry material like more newspaper. This should help maintain the correct dry-to-wet ratio within the bin and minimize smells.
Mix the compost and add more fresh dirt every five to nine days. This aerates the compost to ensure every bit of waste gets broken down. Make sure to secure the lid after mixing. Once the waste is broken down into usable compost or mulch, you can add it to your garden or bring it to a community garden.
Outdoor compost bins are similar to indoor bins, but they are typically much larger. They also have to accommodate for the variations in outdoor weather. Place your outdoor compost bin in a location that is protected from full sun and heavy rain. It should also be within reach of a water source like a hose.
Outdoor compost bins can be larger than indoor bins. A 30-gallon tote is a good size for a beginner. You will also need a drill, dirt, food waste, yard waste and a shovel or pitchfork for mixing.
Drill holes into the bottom and top of the tote. You can also add holes to the side of your container if it is large. The number of ventilation holes depends on how large the bin is. More ventilation is necessary to create an effective large compost bin.
The first layer of material in your bin should be dry yard waste. Dry leaves or grass work well. Then add several inches of dirt. Now you can add food waste and wet yard waste. It is important to mix the waste in with the dry base layer. Every additional layer of wet food waste or yard clippings should be accompanied by more dirt and dry waste.
If you want to avoid searching through your indoor rubbish for food waste, use colored trash bags to segregate food waste from other household rubbish, and then take it to the compost bin when the bag is full.
You may need to sprinkle the top of your compost with water to create the correct moisture level. Your compost should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge at all times. If your compost bin takes a long time to make usable compost, you may need to add more aeration holes, change the ratio of food scraps and yard waste or add more water to the mixture. It may take a little trial and error, but it is rewarding when you get it right.
Once you create your DIY compost bin, you will reduce waste and create a helpful product for your lawn. You can use your compost to create healthy garden soils, boost your potted plant’s growth and grow vegetables like squash. If you do not use your compost, your neighbours or a community garden can use the nutrient-rich mulch you create.