With the impact that landfill and pollution cause to the environment, more and more people are looking for ways to recycle, reuse and compost from their homes.
You can easily start your own home or kitchen compost by choosing which type of composting you will do and ensuring you understand which kitchen and yard scraps can and can’t go into the compost. Once you decide on the type of compost, you can choose inside or outside, purchase your bins and any ‘starter’ required and off you go.
What Is Composting?
Composting is a process that breaks down renewable or organic materials back into their natural state. The matter is broken down through the presence of worms, insects, bacteria and fungi. The idea is that the items or materials that go into compost are renewable and can break down into completely natural matter.
Compostable plastics and food scraps are able to be composted, which makes it simple for people interested in composting, to do this at home. The choices are indoor and outdoor, which then offer their own options for each.
Home composting is a possibility for anyone who is willing to create and maintain a worm farm or home composter. There are rules to composting and it’s important to understand these rules, which include what can go into a composter, how much quantity can be in a composter or worm farm and how to maintain it.
This includes understanding controls and other materials, water, oxygen, temperature and any insects, starter bacteria or worms you require. Compost can then be turned into nutrient-rich fertilizer for use around your home.
Can Anyone Start Home Composting?
Anyone can start their own home composter or worm farm if they’re willing to put in the time and effort! The key is to understand the ‘how’ and ‘what’ that you need to do this. This can be broken down into several steps:
- Decide which home composting system you would like – indoor, outdoor or even worm farm.
- Learn about what materials you need to start your home composter or worm farm.
- Understand what can go into your worm farm or home composter.
- Learn how to maintain your worm farm or home composter i.e. temperature, quantity, steps involved, water/dryness, oxygen.
Compost is really just decomposed organic material. It can be anything from kitchen scraps, plants, twigs, egg shells, coffee grounds, worms or leaves. Compost is used in the garden or soil to improve the quality of the soil and make it a better environment for planting and growing.
What Are The Main Types Of Inside Composting?
If you live in an apartment, townhouse or shared house, you may not have access to compost outside. If you may simply want a small composting option that you can control inside your home. You may also be concerned about attracting insects or vermin.
The two popular indoor options for you to choose from are Vermicompost and Bokashi Composting. These systems are ideal for those who want to compost kitchen waste and fertilize houseplants or their garden in smaller quantities.
Bokashi composting is the more complex of the two options as it needs layers of food waste amongst material infused with different bacteria you can buy online. This method can break down dairy and meat and is quicker than an aerobic system such as Vermicompost.
Vermicompost involves worms which need to be purchased from a store or online. Usually these are ‘red wigglers’ which use aerobic composting. This means that compost has contact with the air or oxygen. It’s a slower option and can’t break down meat or dairy, yet it has less of an odor making it perfect for indoor use.
You can also choose to simply collate your food scraps inside and then transfer to an outdoor compost as well, if neither of the above options are for you. Later in this article, we will cover the different options for collecting your scraps to send to compost or dump into a larger outdoor bin.
How Do I Start A Small Compost Kitchen?
Firstly, you need to decide which composting method you will choose:
- Collate and place into a worm farm or outdoor composter.
The great thing about a home composter is that you can dispose of quite a lot of household waste into your composter! Compostable plastics can also be added to your home compost for complete breakdown back into natural components.
Some items you can dispose of in your kitchen composter include:
- Coffee grounds
- Tea leaves or tea bags
- Food waste such as vegetables or fruit scraps (except in a worm farm – nothing acidic!)
- Leftover bread, pasta or cereals
- Dry cat or dog food
- Shredded newspaper or printer paper (no colored dye).
If you choose to collate your scraps you can do any of the following:
- Collect food scraps and indoor waste in an airtight container (if collating for later, otherwise you need air holes/ventilation)
- Blend items (where possible) into a slurry that can go into a home composter or worm farm
- Freeze and dispose of through your curbside compost collection or into a composter at a later date.
What Materials Do I Need To Start A Kitchen Compost?
The materials you need to start your kitchen compost depends on what type of composting you decide on. Should you choose bokashi, you need the food waste and the bacteria required for bokashi that is easily found online or at specialty stores.
Should you choose vermicompost, you require the red wiggler worms. These can be purchased online or at large produce stores. For both, you also require the composting bin or tin. You can buy a typical tumbler or an airtight container (depending on the type of composting you may need ventilation holes with a screen/mesh to keep out flies).
The key is that you can layer or turn the compost, remove easily at the end, add to the compost easily and wash the container out in between batches. You also need a space to put the bin or container that is out of the way, near the kitchen but not directly where you prepare food. Under the sink is a popular option.
You should also understand how much air your compost requires and this may mean that you poke holes and cover them with mesh if you’re not purchasing a standard composter. You want to keep bugs out while ensuring the compost receives air.
What Do I Need To Expect?
When choosing to compost at home, you can expect many things! Firstly, some great quality fertilizer at the end of everything, and secondly to put in some elbow grease and effort to get started and maintain the compost.
You can expect:
- Some initial research to understand the option that works best for you and where to purchase what you need
- Continuous effort in collating your waste and placing into the compost
- Turning or tumbling the compost when required
- You will need patience!
If you’re willing to learn and put in the effort, you will find the ongoing process of composting rather simple.
Benefits Of A Kitchen Compost
Put simply, the main benefits of composting are that you reduce your environmental impact by returning natural materials back to the earth into compounds such as fertilizer/soil. The manufacturing processes of such products as compostable plastic are environmentally friendly, the end result is safe for the environment and you are taking rubbish out of landfill.
Some benefits of using compostable plastic include:
- Compostable materials can break down in as little as 90 days or less, and at the most, six months.
- Compostable items completely break down into its natural environment when disposed of correctly – back to natural components.
- The breakdown of these plastics can provide compost and fertilizer for your garden or house plants.
- You will keep compostable materials out of landfill.
- You can compost easily from your own kitchen!
So if you’re keen to reduce your contributions to landfill, reduce your waste and make your own fertilizer, home composting may be for you!
Starting your own kitchen compost can be easy, but does require some research, basic understanding of the process and ongoing effort. However, it will be rewarding! The impact that landfill and pollution cause the environment, including the methane that often releases from food scraps sitting in landfill, is high.
Composting offers an alternative to landfill and a way to ensure your compostable items such as food are returned back to the environment. You can start your own home or kitchen compost by understanding four important steps:
- Decide on your composting system, process and location.
- Learn about that process and what you will need.
- Understand what can and can’t be placed into that composter.
- Learn the steps to maintaining the home composter.
You can easily start your own kitchen compost which will result in good-quality fertilizer for your house plants and garden! The best thing is that anyone can do this.