How to Compost – A Starter Guide

By Kim McDevitt, MPH RD on April 15, 2014 , categorized in In the Kitchen

A simple way to “go green” in your home is to compost. Composting goes one step beyond your traditional recycling of plastic, paper, aluminum and glass and offers a solution for most “other” trash: food scraps, tree and grass clippings, and other organic waste products. The benefits of recycling our organic waste is tremendous in regards to reducing food waste in your home, reducing waste in landfills and improving micronutrient content and structure (essential to retaining moisture) of your soil—a huge bonus if you garden! Plus, it offers a fun project for you and your family to partake in. Whether you live in a small apartment or have a large backyard, there’s a composting option for you.

How to Compost – 3 simple steps for DIY composting

1. Choose Your Container
Choosing a bin that fits your living space is key to successful composting. If you live in a house (or have an outdoor space), you can purchase composting specific bins or build your own. They can be as simple as a wire or wooden cage around a compost pile or you can purchase a more sophisticated rotating style bin. If you live in an apartment or have limited outdoor space you can buy small counter-friendly kitchen compost containers.

2. Make the Mix
The optimal “recipe” for compost is a mix of both green and brown matter (defined below) plus water. Stir your compost pile weekly to make sure all materials are blending together. For optimal conditions for bacterial growth, and compost development, make sure your mixture is slightly damp.

3. Reap the Benefits
Expect your compost to be “fully cooked” anywhere from 1 to 6 months. Your finished product should be a dark and crumbly soil that smells fresh and earthy. You can use your homemade compost to sprinkle into your house plant containers, to act as mulch and top soil around tree beds, and to nourish your garden. Alternatively, some states and provinces collect organic waste from homes and process it for you, returning the product to larger farms and local gardeners. If you live in a state or province that offers this, you can get a special compost container to sit alongside your other outdoor trash and recycling containers.

What Can I Compost?

In-Home Waste – Brown

  • Stale breads and crackers
  • Dead or wilted flowers and plants
  • Newspaper
  • Paper products

In-Home Waste – Green

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea leaves

Yard Waste – Brown

  • Dry leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Hay

Yard Waste – Green:

  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Weeds

For more information and resources on how to compost visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.

Do you compost? What are your tips and tricks?

Tagged with
compost earth month food waste sustainability

Kim McDevitt, MPH RD

Kim McDevitt works at Vega as a National Educator. A runner, cooking enthusiast, plant-focused flexitarian, Kim has passionately built her career in nutrition. Noticing that her running performances were closely tied to what she was eating, Kim decided to study nutrition and pursue advanced degrees in Dietetics and Public Health, to better understand the power of food in performance. Today, Kim specializes in sports nutrition to enhance athletic performance and focuses on realistic and approachable ways for improving health through educated dietary choices within an active lifestyle.

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