Have you ever tried transforming your trash into compost? You don’t need a fancy facility to do it. In fact, you can do it in the comfort of your own home. If you’re ready to take recycling to a whole new level, then keep reading – here’s the beginner’s guide to composting at home.
What is Composting?
Composting is a natural method of recycling organic waste. These items can break down into organic materials. Examples are leaves, wood, animal manure, and food scraps.
After composting, these materials become compost. Although they look like soil, they’re different from the soil. Compost is entirely organic, while the soil is a mixture of organic and non-organic materials.
How to Compost at Home
Composting isn’t as complicated as it seems. Just follow the steps below to guide you accordingly.
1. Pick a spot
Pick a location in your house where you want to compost. Do you want to do it indoors or outdoors? Do you want it in the shade or the sun?
Once you have picked a location, then can you decide on the type of bin to use.
2. Choose your bin
There are two major types of compost bins: holding units and turning units. Holding units are stationary, which simply hold your compost pile and let it decompose. Turning units can be turned from side to side or horizontally, which speeds up the composting process.
For beginners, a holding unit is recommended. It’s simple, low-maintenance, and you can choose to purchase or create one. Just drill tiny holes in the sides to let air in.
If you want to compost outdoors, you can take it a step further by cutting off the bottom of your bin. Then, bury the lower bottom of your bin below the surface of the soil by a few inches or feet. Keeping the bin open at the bottom helps microorganisms get in your pile easier.
If you want to compost indoors, drill holes at the bottom instead of cutting it completely. This lets out accumulated water in your pile. Just make sure you have a container below that’s ready to catch the water.
Bins can also be made of other materials like stone, wood, and fence wire. Whatever you choose, make sure the top is covered to keep rodents and other critters at bay.
3. Pile up
What you add to your compost pile is either nitrogen-rich or carbon-rich. The nitrogen-rich matter should be “green”, whereas carbon-rich matter should be “brown”.
Some examples of nitrogen-rich matter are fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds and filters, cut flowers, manure (livestock), green leaves, green grass clippings, tea, and grains.
Some examples of carbon-rich matter are straw, paper, sawdust, wood clippings, dried leaves, dried grass clippings, hay, and twigs.
A good nitrogen to carbon ratio is 2/3 “brown” to 1/3 “green”. Too much “green” will slow down the whole process. If you’re in doubt, just add more “brown”.
Don’t add meat, bones, or dairy. These can slow down composting, leave your pile smelly, and attract critters. You can also cut materials into smaller pieces to hasten the process.
4. Add water and air
Water is an important element for composting. A good level of moisture should resemble a well-wrung-out sponge. A pile that is too damp will not break down.
Air is another element your compost needs. Turning or stirring your pile allows for aeration, apart from the holes in your bin. This helps microorganisms breathe, keeps your pile from emitting odor, and regulates moisture.
You can stir your pile with a shovel or a compost fork every few days or weeks. The more frequent, the faster it will break down. To stir it up, start from the edges and then bring them into the center.
5. Microorganisms are your friends
Microorganisms are responsible for breaking down your pile into organic matter. These are actinomycetes, bacteria, and fungi. You know they’re at work if your pile starts heating up.
Remember, your pile should have a good balance of ingredients to activate microorganisms.
Benefits of Composting
Composting can go from a month to two years. It depends on how you take care of your pile. But no matter the length of period, it does wonders to planet earth!
Aside from enriching soil and feeding plants, it minimizes waste that goes to landfills. Many people are unaware that landfills are overflowing and will be unusable in a few years. By composting at home, you’re saving landfills.
If composting isn’t your thing, you can contribute in other ways like avoiding the usual disposable items. You’ll be surprised to find alternatives to items such as cotton swabs, napkins, diapers, and q tips. For instance, you can switch bamboo toothbrushes, good old-fashioned handkerchiefs, Last Object’s reusable swabs, and reusable diapers.
You can also contribute by donating things you don’t need, reducing food waste, avoiding plastic, and more. Choose what you’ll enjoy most, and create a habit out of it. Saving our planet has never been this easy!