Spending more time at home may have you eating in more (or even ordering takeout) but with less time out at restaurants you may be surprised about all the food waste we create. Composting at home is a great way to use food scraps in a productive way to break down organic waste and reuse it in your yard or garden.
You may think that you need a full yard to compost, but fortunately, that isn’t the case. Backyard bins are great, but you can compost in the tiniest apartment just by adding your food scraps to a bag in the freezer. We’ll walk through some key steps for starting your compost pile and what you can and can’t add to it.
What is composting?
Composting is a way of collecting organic waste (like vegetable stems or leftover food) to create a healthy soil feeder over time. To get technical, materials rich in nutrients speed up the decomposition process and leave you with a great topsoil to use around your yard or donate to a community garden.
What can you compost?
You usually can’t throw just any kind of food waste into your compost pile so there are some basics to nail down. Adding soiled compost to your yard may even kill your plants so you’ll want to follow closely along.
To remind yourself of the dos and don’ts, print out this composting cheatsheet to hang on your fridge or above your compost area.
Every compost pile has three main components:
- Browns: materials rich in carbon
- Branches and twigs
- Newspaper shreds
- Dead leaves
- Egg shells
- Greens: materials rich in nitrogen
- Fruits and vegetables
- Old flowers
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags
- Water: adds moisture
You should aim for your browns to green ratio to be 3:1.
Materials you shouldn’t compost
As we mentioned, avoid adding these items to your compost:
- Citrus fruit peels
- Diseased plants and weeds
- Meat and dairy
- Coal or charcoal ash
- Cooking oils
Now all you’ve got to do is get started with your compost pile! If you have some backyard space, check out this visual from The Zebra for more tips on how you can use your compost.