Composting 101: Why and How to Get Started
Composting – one of the best ways to improve your personal impact on the environment. However, what is an excellent sustainability effort can sometimes feel daunting to the uninitiated, especially when living in an apartment.
Thankfully, composting has come a long way since just a few years ago, making it easier for anybody – no matter where they live.
The top 3 benefits of composting
Adding composting to your sustainable lifestyle repertoire has many benefits, some of which you may not have heard about before. No matter if you’re experimenting with gardening, or someone doing all they can to reduce their carbon footprint, composting is something you’ll want to pick up.
1.Tackling landfill waste
In today’s day and age, our homes are producing a lot of waste, most of which is being sent to landfill. This is creating the need to expand landfills, many of which are already poorly managed environmental hazards. Composting is one of the easiest ways to significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, which is easy to pick up and maintain.
2. Combatting climate change
Compostable waste ending up in a landfill isn’t just adding to the waste crisis – it’s also contributing to climate change.
When food waste and other compostables are sent to landfill, they lack the conditions they need to decompose properly – mainly the access to oxygen. In this environment, they emit methane – a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent in the short run than CO2, contributing to climate change.
3. Perfect for gardening
If you have a garden, a compost is the perfect way to enhance your gardening efforts! Compost provides a natural fertilizer, so that you don’t have to use any chemicals, growing your crops in the most natural way possible.
Finding the right compost for you
There are more ways to compost that just throwing all your scraps on a pile in the back of the garden! Nowadays, there are much more elegant solutions too – even those suited to apartment living.
Worm bins, or vermicomposters, are one of the most best solutions for composting in an apartment. They’re small, portable and discrete – which is perfect for small living spaces.
Worm bins also speed up the process, as the worms added to the compost eat and aerate the compost, producing a liquid fertilizer. Thanks to the worms, there’s also no need to turn the compost, as the worms do that for you!
Open compost bins look a lot neater than piles and can be built with just a few planks of wood. The opening on the top makes harvesting and turning the compost easy, while containing the compost into an enclosed space.
If you want the compost in your garden to be hidden from sight or only have a terrace as an outdoor space, a closed bin might just be the right choice for you.
Just keep in mind that these may be a little too small for a large garden which produces a lot of organic waste, so they’re ideal if you only have your kitchen waste and some compostable home goods to compost.
Tumblers combine the discreet nature of closed bins with the easy turning of a compost pile – the only thing that’s a little more complicated is the harvesting process.
You could even make a compost tumbler yourself, if you’re on a budget!
We said before that a compost pile isn’t the only way to compost – but it is still a good budget-friendly options for those with large gardens. It requires little construction, it’s basically free and make turning the compost much easier.
While it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, it’s a great option if you can hide the pile in a back corner of your garden.
Composting do's and don'ts
Once you’ve picked out the right composting method for you, you’ll likely be wondering about what you can and cannot compost. That’s why we’ve created this list of items you can and cannot compost – just keep in mind that some harder or larger items may need to be shredded or chopped before being added to the compost.
What you should add to your compost
- Scraps from plant-based foods
- Expired herbs and spices
- Garden waste, such as tree leaves
- Coffee grounds and tea leaves
- Human and pet hair
- Nail clippings
- Wood shavings
- Used napkins and tissues
- Natural fabrics such as cotton or linen
- Non-glossy newspapers, leaflets and magazines
- Cardboard (such as all the materials we use for shipping)
- Wood and bamboo (such as a used bamboo toothbrush after removing the bristles)
- Compostable food scrap bags
- Many of the compostable everyday goods you’ll find in our plastic-free online store, such as our burlap and cotton sponges or compostable dog poop bags
What you shouldn't add to your compost
- Cooking oil
- Animal waste
- Diseased yard waste
- Used personal care products
- Fruit and vegetable stickers (unless they're paper)
- Walnut shells
- Dryer lint
- Cigarette butts