How Anyone Can Compost at Home


Composting is underrated. Many people, trying to live a greener life, are creating new habits for the Earth’s benefit: reusable products, recycling, active voting… The list is long! 

But, we rarely run into people who are composting! Compostables make up 25% of household trash, so if you add composting to your life, you cut down your trash by a fourth! 

But don’t I need a special set-up? 

No! You can compost no matter where you live. Here’s how.

How to Compost at Home

Step One: Pick a Spot

You’ll want to pick the right spot for your compost spot. The best place will have access to water (like your hose) and some sun! If you don’t have a backyard space, that’s okay too! You can still learn how to compost inside or on a porch, deck, or balcony.

Step Two: Choose a Set-Up

Depending on your space, there’s a variety of systems for composting.

For a small space, consider vermicomposting in a tabletop composter or small, outdoor bin. Whether inside or out on a balcony, you can compost no matter what kind of space you’re workin’ with.

For a larger space, set up a two or three bin system that portions the compost up based on the stage of composting. Your bins can be whatever material you have and like the look of.

Step Three: Layer

Start your compost bin with a layer of rocky filler to help with drainage (gravel or flagstone). On top, add well-drained soil. Once the foundation is in place, you’ll layer the “brown” and “green” materials.

What’s “brown” and what’s “green?”

In short, green items are food and natural materials while brown items are paper or wood products.

For green, think vegetable and fruit scraps, grass clippings, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, bread products, manure, or flat beer.

For brown, think cardboard, dead leaves, paper egg cartons, sawdust, tissues or newspaper, lint, or wine corks.

As you layer, use a 2-1 ratio of brown to green (double the “brown” items to the “green” items). Try six inches of brown materials to three inches of green.

After each layer, water until moist, but not soggy! Aim for the same water-level as a moist sponge. Overwatering can make your compost slimy or stinky, so don’t overdo it.

Repeat layering until you’re out of materials.

Step Five: Turn

Turning is the key to letting your compost pile work it’s magic! Turning adds air to the compost, letting oxygen get into the microbes that are breaking down everything inside.

If you’re using a compost tumbler, you can turn the crank to turn every three to four days. For a pile or large bin, turn with a shovel or pitchfork every three to seven days.

Not turning your compost enough can lead to a stink or creepy crawlies, but otherwise your compost will just smell earthy, not bad!

So, what do you think? Ready to try composting? Now you know how to compost! It’s good for your garden and the planet, alike.