Energy, News, and Climate

The Short and Long Guide to Composting

Composting is super easy and a great way to keep trash out of the landfill. Contrary to popular belief, it is not complicated or smells bad. 20-30% of the waste stream is food scraps and yard waste so I encourage everyone to do their part and help cut this down.

Buckhorn Mesa Landfill Credit: Alan Levine

Buckhorn Mesa Landfill
Credit: Alan Levine

Short Version

1. Get a plastic bin and drill holes in it.

2. Throw food and yard waste in.

3. Wait. You’ll have rich compost in a few months.

Long Version

Composting is just nature’s way of recycling organic matter. Fortunately for us, there are tons of microorganisms that are really good at turning organic material into nutrient rich soil. All we need to do is provide ideal conditions, i.e. a compost bin.

A c55769180ompost bin is just box. Ideally it should be at least one cubic yard. You can get a purpose made bin from a hardware store or just take a plastic bin and cut some holes in it. Some people like to use a trash can so they can easily roll it around to stir it up.
You need to feed your compost pile four things: “browns” for carbon, “greens” for nitrogen, air, and water. Brown materials are things like paper, leaves, twigs, old potting soil. Greens include grass clippings, food scraps, and coffee grounds. If you have a good balance of all four, your compost won’t smell bad and will work effectively. Don’t put things that won’t break down like glass or aluminum. Keep meats, grease, and oil out so you don’t end up with a racoon problem. has a great list of 163 you CAN compost.

Last Week Tonight did an excellent job of summing up the food waste issue in this country. At least try to make sure what is leftover doesn’t go in the landfill.

3 thoughts on “The Short and Long Guide to Composting

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