I seem to be having a green theme going here, so I’m going to stick with it for awhile longer. Nick and I live in a very green, environmentally-conscious community and apparently it’s rubbing off on us since we officially took the leap into composting last month.
We are already avid recyclers and we try our best to reduce our household waste by doing simple things like always using cloth napkins; bringing reusable plates, cups, and utensils when we picnic or camp; and bringing our own shopping bags to the store (it helps that stores and restaurants in D.C. charge 5 cents for plastic bags). Cutting down on the amount of trash we leave out at the curb by composting our food and yard waste seemed like a natural next step for us.
Nick and I tossed around the idea of building a wooden composting bin, but in the end we decided to start simply and picked up a large-capacity recycled plastic bin that our county offers to residents for free. The bin is adjustable and has large ventilating holes and an open top to allow for plenty of air and moisture. *Cooper was not actually smiling in this photo so I helped him out.
Step one was to clear away the leaves from a corner of the lowest level of our tiered backyard, aka the pit. This corner of the yard is one of only a few areas that gets sun, which is very helpful to speed the composting process.
The next step was to dig out a small amount of dirt to create a ring to place the bin; even though it’s made from heavy duty plastic, it’s still rather flimsy and we didn’t want it blowing away in heavy winds and leaving behind a pile of compost. After setting the plastic bin into the ring Nick back-filled the dirt to make the bin more stable.
Nick then filled the bin with a base of leaves a couple of inches thick – a good compost has a mix of browns (leaves and twigs) and greens (fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, etc.) and water (rainwater should do the trick but I’ve read that it’s good to occasionally spray it with water in the dry summer). Our outside bin was now ready to go!
For inside, I picked up a 5-quart container at the store for $15, which has an airtight lid to trap in any odors, but to be honest there really aren’t any since no dairy or meat scraps go into the compost pail. Also, we compost our daily coffee grounds and I think they help neutralize any odors.
To make it easy for us to compost, we placed the container in a easy to access pull out drawer right next to the sink and trash. The container is big enough to hold a typical week’s worth of food scraps, but we’ve been taking it out even more frequently since we tend to eat lots of fruits and veggies in the summer.
When the container is full, we take it out to the compost bin and dump it in, and always make sure to add a layer of leaves on top to discourage any unwanted critters (thankfully we have an endless supply of leaves from our heavily treed yard). Other than turning the pile every couple of weeks, the compost pile requires almost no work.
Anyone else ever try composting? If so, please share any tips!