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The Benefits Of Composting And How To Start

Published on 03 May 23, Updated on 01 Jun 23.
The Benefits Of Composting And How To Start

Composting is a natural process of recycling organic material into a rich soil conditioner that can improve soil health and support plant growth. It's a simple and effective way to reduce waste and contribute to a sustainable environment.

Not only does composting divert waste from landfills, but it also reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which can harm the environment and human health. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting to explore the world of composting, here are some benefits of composting and tips on how to get started.

Table of contents

The Benefits Of Composting

Reduction Of Waste

Composting is an effective method to reduce the volume of waste ending up in landfills. Decomposable organic matter, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells, can be transformed into nutrient-rich compost. By diverting these materials from the waste stream, less waste is sent to landfills, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions produced from its decomposition.

Improving Soil Quality

Composting also contributes to improving soil quality. The compost created can be used as an organic fertilizer to enrich the soil with essential nutrients and maintain soil moisture. As a result, plants grown in compost-enriched soil are generally healthier, stronger, and more resistant to pests and diseases.

Saving Money

Composting can save you money in various ways. Firstly, composting reduces the need to purchase chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, which can be costly. Secondly, by using the compost created from your waste, you can eliminate the need to buy soil amendments, such as peat moss and vermiculite, that are often used to improve soil quality.

Education and Engagement

Composting is an excellent way to educate and engage people in sustainable practices. By composting, you can demonstrate how much waste can be diverted from the trash and what beneficial outcomes it can have. It is a great activity for schools, community gardens, and individual households to practice and engage in environmental action.

How To Start Composting

Composting is an excellent way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your plants. Here are some steps on how to start composting:

Step 1: Choose a Composting Method

There are several composting methods available, including traditional backyard composting, vermicomposting (using worms), and composting with a bin. Choose a method that fits your lifestyle and available space.

Step 2: Choose a Composting Location

Select a location that is convenient for you to access and provides adequate drainage. Ideally, it should be in a shaded area to prevent the compost from drying out too quickly.

Step 3: Collect Composting Materials

Composting requires a mixture of "browns" (carbon-rich materials) and "greens" (nitrogen-rich materials). Brown materials include dry leaves, straw, and newspaper, while green materials include fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds.

Step 4: Build Your Compost Pile or Bin

Layer your compost materials (alternating brown and green) and add a small amount of water to keep it moist. If using a bin, be sure to mix the compost regularly to ensure proper aeration and decomposition.

Step 5: Monitor Your Compost

Check the compost regularly to ensure it is moist but not too wet. When it begins to look like soil and has a earthy smell, it is ready to use! Composting is a simple and effective way to reduce your carbon footprint and create healthy soil for your garden. Follow these steps to start composting today!

Types Of Composting

Composting is the process of breaking down organic materials like food scraps, yard waste, and paper into a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can be used to fertilize plants. There are several different types of composting methods that you can use to create compost at home.

1. Indoor Composting

Indoor composting, also known as vermicomposting, uses worms to break down food scraps into compost. You can set up a worm bin in your home or apartment and compost your food waste without any outdoor space.

2. Outdoor Composting

Outdoor composting is the most common method of composting. It involves creating a compost pile or using a compost bin in your backyard. You can compost a wide variety of materials, including yard waste, food scraps, and paper.

3. Composting with Bokashi

Bokashi composting is a method of composting that uses a special bokashi mix to break down food scraps quickly. The bokashi mix contains microorganisms that ferment the food waste, which is then buried in the ground or added to a compost pile.

4. Trench Composting

Trench composting involves burying food scraps directly in your garden bed. This method can help to improve the soil structure and fertility of your garden while also reducing food waste. No matter which method of composting you choose, there are many benefits to composting, including reducing waste, improving soil health, and reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. Start composting today to create a more sustainable future!

Composting Materials

Composting is a simple and effective way to reduce waste and nourish your garden. To start composting, you'll need certain materials. Some of the most common composting materials include:

Brown Materials

Brown materials are rich in carbon and provide the structural support your compost needs. Examples include fallen leaves, straw, wood chips, sawdust, and shredded paper.

Green Materials

Green materials are rich in nitrogen and provide the protein your compost needs to break down waste. Examples include grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells.

Air & Water

Air and water are essential to the composting process. Moisture is necessary to break down organic matter, while oxygen helps microbes thrive. Avoid adding too much water or tightly packing your compost pile to ensure adequate air circulation.

What NOT to Compost

Certain materials should not be added to your compost pile, including dairy products, meat, and bones. These materials can attract pests and create unpleasant odors. Additionally, cigarette butts, cat litter, and pet waste can contain harmful chemicals that may contaminate your compost. Keeping these materials in mind will help you get started on your composting journey and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Happy composting!

Composting Dos And Don'ts

Composting is an eco-friendly way to dispose of organic waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Follow these dos and don'ts to ensure the best results:


  • DO compost fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, eggshells, yard waste, and other organic materials.
  • DO keep your compost moist and mix it regularly to ensure proper decomposition.
  • DO layer your compost with a mix of browns (e.g. leaves, straw) and greens (e.g. food scraps, grass clippings) to maintain a balance of carbon and nitrogen.
  • DO cover your compost pile with a tarp or lid to keep it moist and warm.
  • DO use a compost thermometer to monitor the temperature of your pile. It should be between 135-160°F for optimal decomposition.


  • DON'T compost meat, dairy, or oily foods. They can attract pests and create odors.
  • DON'T add plants treated with pesticides or herbicides to your compost pile. These chemicals can harm beneficial microorganisms and potentially contaminate your soil.
  • DON'T add pet waste or human waste to your compost pile. They can contain harmful bacteria and pathogens.
  • DON'T add weeds or invasive plants to your compost pile. They can continue to grow and spread in your garden.
  • DON'T let your compost pile dry out. It needs moisture to decompose properly.

Troubleshooting Compost Problems

Problem 1: Bad odors

One of the most common problems with composting is the bad odor that can occur. This is usually caused by adding too much nitrogen-rich material, like food scraps, without balancing it with carbon-rich material like leaves or straw. To solve this issue, make sure to add equal parts of both green and brown materials to the compost bin.

Problem 2: Pests and rodents

Another issue with composting is the attraction of pests and rodents. This can happen if you add meat, dairy, or oily foods to your compost bin, as these can attract unwanted animals. To prevent this, avoid adding these types of food to your compost pile and add a layer of soil or leaves on top to discourage rodents from digging.

Problem 3: Slow decomposition

If your compost pile is taking longer to decompose, it may not be getting enough oxygen. This can happen if the pile is too compact or if it's not mixed regularly. To fix this, make sure to turn and mix the pile every couple of weeks to allow oxygen to flow through and speed up the decomposition process. Overall, troubleshooting compost problems can be easy with a little bit of knowledge and understanding of the composting process. By avoiding common mistakes and properly managing your compost bin, you'll be able to produce high-quality compost and reap the many benefits of sustainable gardening and waste reduction.

Using Compost In Gardening

Compost is a natural and organic way to improve your soil and provide nutrients to your plants. By using compost in your gardening, you can increase soil fertility, improve soil structure, and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.

How to Use Compost

There are many ways to use compost in gardening. You can use it as a top dressing by spreading it on top of the soil around your plants. Alternatively, you can incorporate it into the soil by digging it into the top few inches of soil.

The Benefits of Using Compost In Gardening

Using compost in gardening has many benefits. It can help retain moisture in the soil, reduce erosion, and improve the soil's ability to hold nutrients. Compost also helps to break down organic matter, making it easier for plant roots to absorb nutrients from the soil.

What to Avoid When Using Compost

When using compost in gardening, it's important to avoid using it too soon after it's been created. Fresh compost can be too hot for plants and may contain harmful pathogens. You should also avoid using compost that contains large amounts of weed seeds or disease-causing organisms.

Making Your Own Compost

If you're interested in using compost in your gardening, consider making your own. You can create compost from your kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other organic matter. Composting is easy and can be done in a small backyard or on a larger scale. Using compost in gardening is a sustainable and eco-friendly way to improve the health of your plants and soil. By following these tips, you can create a healthy and thriving garden without relying on harmful chemicals or fertilizers.

Composting With Worms

Composting with worms, also known as vermicomposting, is a sustainable way of turning food scraps into nutrient-rich soil for your plants. This method uses red wigglers, a type of worm that can eat up to their body weight in organic matter each day. Not only does vermicomposting reduce waste going to landfills, but it also reduces the need for chemicals in fertilizers.

How to Start Composting with Worms

The first step in starting a worm bin is to purchase red wigglers from a reputable dealer. Then, choose a container that provides good drainage and ventilation, as well as ample space for the worms. Fill the bin with bedding material, such as shredded newspaper or leaves, and add the worms.

What to Compost with Worms

Worms will eat most organic matter, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells. However, avoid adding meat, dairy, or oily foods to the bin as they can attract pests and create unpleasant odors. It's also important to maintain a balance between carbon-rich materials, such as paper and leaves, and nitrogen-rich materials, such as food scraps and grass clippings.

Caring for the Worm Bin

Keep the worm bin in a cool, shady location and moisten the bedding material as needed to keep it from drying out. Feed the worms regularly and avoid overfeeding, which can lead to odors and pest problems. Occasionally, harvest the compost by separating the worms from the finished compost and adding fresh bedding material to the bin.

Composting For Apartment Dwellers

Composting can seem daunting, especially if you live in an apartment without access to a backyard. However, with a little effort and creativity, composting is still achievable for apartment dwellers.

Indoor Composting

One option is indoor composting, using a small bin to collect vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and other compostable materials. Adding worms to the bin can speed up the composting process. Be sure to keep the bin in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area to prevent odor and pests.

Outdoor Composting

If you have access to a balcony or outdoor space, consider using a small compost tumbler or bin. Look for compact options that wont take up too much space. Be mindful of any community composting programs or regulations in your area.

Community Composting

Another option is to join a community composting program, where members can drop off their compost at a central location for it to be processed. Some cities offer this service for free or at a low cost, and its a great way to contribute to a larger composting effort. Regardless of the method chosen, composting has many benefits, such as reducing food waste and helping to create nutrient-rich soil for plants. With a bit of effort, apartment dwellers can also help contribute to more sustainable living practices.

Composting for Businesses

Composting is a great way for businesses to reduce their environmental impact and save money on waste disposal costs. Instead of sending food and other organic waste to landfills where they will produce methane emissions, composting allows businesses to turn those same materials into nutrient-rich soil amendments that can be used in landscaping or sold to farmers and gardeners.

Benefits of Composting for Businesses

Composting for businesses offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Reducing waste disposal costs
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from landfills
  • Creating a valuable soil amendment that can be used onsite or sold
  • Demonstrating commitment to sustainability to customers and employees

How to Start Composting for Businesses

Starting a composting program for your business is relatively easy:

  1. Conduct a waste audit to determine how much organic waste you generate
  2. Choose a composting system that works for your space and needs
  3. Educate employees on what can and cannot be composted
  4. Establish a collection system and schedule
  5. Monitor and maintain the compost pile or bin
  6. Use the finished compost on site or sell it to customers

Composting can be a simple and effective way to reduce your business's impact on the environment while benefiting your bottom line.

DIY Composting Bins

Composting is a great way to reduce food waste and improve the health of your plants. While there are many compost bins available for purchase, making your own can be a fun and rewarding DIY project. Plus, you can customize the size and materials to fit your specific needs.

Types of DIY Composting Bins

There are several types of DIY compost bins, including pallet bins, tumbler bins, and worm bins. Pallet bins require minimal building skills and involve creating a box out of wooden pallets. Tumbler bins involve attaching a drum to a frame and rotating it periodically to mix the compost. Worm bins use red worms to break down the food waste, and can be made using plastic bins or wooden boxes.

Materials Needed for A DIY Composting Bin

Regardless of the type of compost bin you choose to make, there are a few key materials you will need. This includes a drill, screws, a saw, wire mesh or hardware cloth, and the appropriate building materials, such as pallets, a drum, or wooden planks. Additionally, you will need to add compostable materials to the bin, such as food scraps, yard waste, and newspaper.

Tips for Successful Composting

To ensure your compost bin is successful, it's important to follow a few key tips. This includes regularly adding new compostable materials, monitoring the moisture levels to ensure it doesn't get too dry or too wet, and regularly rotating or turning the compost to mix the materials. Additionally, using a mix of carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials can help speed up the composting process. Carbon-rich materials include dried leaves, newspaper, and cardboard, while nitrogen-rich materials include fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds.
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