People are now more environmentally conscious than ever before. But, we still have a long way to go when it comes to reducing waste and minimizing our impact on the earth.
One of the keys to reducing one’s carbon footprint is making composting a priority. Currently, 72 percent of Americans do not compost. However, 67 percent of those people say they would be willing to compost if it were easy and convenient.
If you’re part of this group, keep reading. Explained below is everything you need to know to start composting.
What is Composting?
Before getting into the specifics of how to compost at home, let’s explain what it is and why it is important.
Compost is material that, when added to soil, can help plants grow. Many items that typically get thrown away, including yard waste and food scraps, make great compost.
Adding these materials to a compost bin or pile helps keep them out of landfills. As a result, the release of dangerous greenhouse gases like methane is diminished.
Benefits of Composting
In addition to reducing waste, there are several other benefits of composting, including the following:
- Improved soil health
- Suppressed pests and plant diseases
- Reduced need for chemical fertilizers
- Increased production of beneficial fungi and bacteria (which leads to more nutrient-rich soil)
As you can see, there are lots of reasons to make composting a priority. But, how difficult is it, and how do you get started?
How to Get Started
Starting to compost might seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite simple. If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a composting expert.
1. Get a Compost Bin
First, you’ll need a container to hold your compost. Your structure doesn’t need to be particularly fancy. Its purpose is simply to hold all your ingredients together so that bacteria can effectively break down the plant matter.
Compost bins can be broken up into two categories: stationary and rotating. No matter which type of compost bin you use, you will need to turn the contents inside of it. This helps combine the material and allows oxygen to reach the compost.
Stationary compost bins can simply be wooden crates or well-ventilated cages. Plastic bins are also helpful since they retain more heat. Rotating compost bins are designed to be turned more easily and can expedite the decomposition process.
When you use a rotating compost bin, the process usually takes just a few weeks. With a stationary bin, you’re looking at a few months or years.
If you want to use your finished compost to spread on your garden, a rotating bin might be more beneficial. Rotating bins can also be good if you produce a lot of food or yard waste.
Place Your Bin in the Right Place
No matter which type of bin you use, you’ll need to make sure you’re storing it in the right place. Stationary bins to best when they’re stored in a hot place that receives a lot of direct sunlight. This helps speed up the decomposition process.
Rotating bins can also benefit from being placed in direct sunlight. However, their location is not as crucial since the process is helped along every time the bin is turned.
Create the Right Ingredient Mix
A standard compost pile should contain a mixture of brown matter and green matter.
Brown matter includes things like wood chips, newspaper, and dry leaves. Green matter includes food waste and grass clippings.
If you have an outdoor compost bin, it’s best not to include animal products like meat, fish, or dairy. These are more likely to attract pests.
If you want to give your compost pile a jump start, there are lots of activators you can buy to add to your pile. These tools will speed up the decomposition process and help you see results sooner.
Maintain Your Compost Pile
Once you’ve started your compost pile, there’s not much maintenance required. However, you will need to take care of some basic chores to help the process along.
The most important maintenance tip is to make sure you’re turning the pile regularly. Depending on the type of bin you have, you’ll either need to rotate the bin itself or use a pitchfork or similar tool to rotate the bin’s contents.
Turn your compost about once every 1-2 weeks to blend the materials and make sure they’re working together properly.
Check to make sure the mixture is damp, too. This will ensure the decomposition process is working properly.
Your compost will be ready to use on your garden when it’s dark and crumbly and smells like fresh soil.
Common Composting Mistakes
Starting a compost bin is an easy way to make your home more eco-friendly. It’s hard to actually mess up a compost bin, but avoiding these common mistakes will help you get off to a better start.
- Avoid starting too small: You need a decent amount of material for the decomposition process to work effectively.
- If you don’t produce a lot of waste or don’t have a lot of room, but a composting bin specifically designed for small spaces.
- Keep your compost pile moist: If your material seems dry, simply add some water too it as you’re turning it.
- Use a variety of materials: For the best compost, make sure you’re using all kinds of materials; this will help your plants develop better pest and disease resistance.
Finally, don’t let a need for perfection stop you from trying to compost. Remember, it’s not as intimidating as it might seem.
Even if you make a few mistakes along the way, you’ll still be making an effort to help the environment. At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
Looking for More Tips?
Now that you’ve got all the information on how to get started, are you ready to make composting a regular part of your lifestyle?
Do you want to learn more about making your home more eco-friendly? If so, be sure to check out our collection of tips for going green today. We’ve got tons of information that is perfect for beginners.