What is Composting and How To Start

April 21, 2017

Part of working towards an environmentally friendly, more sustainable lifestyle means cutting back on food waste. It also means utilizing a compost bin. As a vegan, I'm able to save all of my food scraps from the landfill by tossing them into a compost bin. It's been the best step I've made in reducing how much garbage I make and today I want to share the why and how when it comes to composting.

What is Composting?

Composting is the decomposing of organic matter (think food scraps, tea leaves, and paper) into compost, which is a good fertilizer for plants. 

Why Should I Compost?

First and foremost, composting reduces so much food waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Instead of contributing to greenhouse gas, the food waste will be decomposed, creating beneficial soil that you can use to fertilize your plants and help them grow.

If you live in a city (like me) you probably don't have access to a personal garden. However, a lot of cities offer composting programs that will pick up your waste and bring it to a communal composting lot that the city and community members can use to feed their plants.

You'll also save money by composting. Depending on the size of your garden and your composting bin, instead of buying fertilizer and potting soil, you can use your compost pile to nourish your garden.

How Do I Get Started?

If you're in the city, look into a countertop compost bin. This is the one I use. I love it because it's big enough to hold a good amount of food scraps, but it doesn't take up all of our counter space. It's also plastic free and made of durable stainless steel. I fill this up, toss it into our building's compost bin, and it's picked up weekly by the city.

Another option we love is keeping a bowl in the freezer for our food scraps. If you’re worried about attracting bugs or the smell of your food scraps throughout the week, this is a great way to store scraps until you can drop them off at your weekly compost drop off.

If you've got access to a yard, I still recommend using a counter top compost bin. But instead of being picked up by the city, you can toss your food scraps into a backyard compost pile. This way you can keep your compost and use it for your plants, and you don't need to rely on a city program. This post from the University of Missouri gives instructions for building several types of compost bins, and it even tells you how to heap compost in case you're not handy with tools.

For more tips, this post gives some simple do's and don'ts of composting.

What Do I Compost?


  • Fruit and Veggie Scraps
  • Eggs
  • Loose Leaf Tea
  • Tea Bags
  • Dry Grass + Plants
  • Wood
  • Dryer Lint
  • Shredded Paper
Do Not Compost:
  • Animal Waste
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Diseased Plants + Weeds
  • Chemicals or Inorganic Materials

Sarah Price is a green beauty and self care writer with an obsession with holistic skincare. She writes about natural beauty, DIY recipes, self care tips, and more on her self titled blog.

Photo Credit: Fotolia/coulanges

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