Are you looking for an easy way to reduce household waste while providing valuable nutrients to your garden? Are you ready to help the environment and save some money in the process? Then composting is the answer! Composting may sound intimidating, but anyone can make it part of their routine with a few easy steps. We’re here to help you understand what composting involves, its benefits, and how to compost at home – from gathering supplies and setting up a bin, to what materials you can (and can’t) add – so let’s get started!
But first, what is composting?
Composting breaks down organic matter, such as vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and leaves, into a nutrient-rich material used to fertilise plants (it really is incredible!) Composting helps reduce landfill waste and also produces healthier topsoil for your garden or outdoor spaces. It’s a super easy way to go green!
Why is composting important?
Home composting offers so many benefits, and makes it easy to help the environment, starting in (literally) your own backyard.. Let’s explore why starting a compost system can have so many positive impacts – both on our homes and the globe! Here are some of those benefits:
Reduces the amount of waste that goes into landfills: Composting organic material (instead of disposing of it in your red bin) helps to reduce how much waste goes into landfills. This means fewer resources are needed to transport and process the waste, and less space is taken up for landfills, which could be used as potential living areas for animals, among other things (how great is that?!)
Reduces emissions: Composting helps to lower carbon dioxide emissions by reducing how much food and garden waste is burned or sent off to be incinerated. This also reduces how much methane gas is released from landfill sites.
Helps maintain healthy soil: Compost introduces beneficial bacteria back into the ground that nourishes plants, promoting natural growth and providing a better environment for root development. It also helps prevent erosion, retain moisture, and support healthy microbial activity in the soil!
Saves resources: Landscaping and gardening projects require fewer resources when compost is used. Compost helps to reduce how much water, fertiliser, and pesticides are needed for optimal plant growth.
How to compost at home?
Composting isn’t complicated – it just needs the right mixture of materials and environmental conditions. Here are some of our top tips on how to compost at home, easily!
1. Choose a prime location
Place your compost pile in a sunny spot that’s easily accessible (basically so you don’t have to trek across the garden whenever you want to add something). It should also be away from structures or pathways, so the process doesn’t cause any damage or disruption!
2. Gather the right materials
Compost piles need a mix of green and brown material to break down properly, so make sure you have both on hand. Green material includes fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggshells. Brown material includes dried leaves, straw, wood ash, and newspaper.
3. Start layering!
Start with a layer of brown material (like straw or dried leaves), then add your green material (fruit and veggie scraps). Continue layering these two types of materials until your compost pile is at least one cubic metre in size (this will help it retain heat better). Remember to add some soil too! This helps introduce beneficial microorganisms that will help the organic material to break down.
4. Add water
Compost piles need moisture to decompose properly, so ensure you add water every now and then. The pile should be damp, not wet, so don’t go overboard!
5. Turn your compost
Turning your compost pile will help break down the materials faster and more evenly, so it’s worth doing this every couple of weeks or so with a garden fork. This is also an excellent time to check in on how much moisture your compost needs!
Tips for taking your composting game up a notch
Here are some top tips on taking your home compost to the next level and maximising its benefits:
Use a compost bin or tumbler
Compost bins or tumblers (bins you can roll to mix the compost – next level!) help to retain heat and create the ideal conditions for decomposition, so it’s worth investing in one of these options, if you want your compost pile to get to work more quickly!
Introduce worms (vermicomposting)
Worms can help to break down organic material faster, so why not introduce some into your compost pile and start vermicomposting?! The worms introduce beneficial microorganisms that will aid in the breakdown of organic matter more quickly.
Add compost activators
Compost activators are specially formulated products, designed to speed up the decomposition process. These can be added to your compost every few weeks to accelerate the process and get the most out of your compost!
Use a rain barrel (or another container) to collect and store rainwater – these can be filled up and used to keep your compost pile moist.
Keep track of temperatures
Monitoring how hot your compost pile is will help you figure out how quickly it’s breaking down; too cold and it won’t decompose properly; too hot, and it could burn off all the nutrients in the soil. You can either measure this manually or purchase a thermometer that does the job for you!
What are the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of composting?
Composting is an enriching and eco-friendly activity you can do at home and on a larger scale. It involves collecting organic material from plants, food scraps, and even animal waste, which are then combined with soil to create a natural fertiliser for the garden. It’s important to know what you can – and can’t – compost, though!
Things you can compost
These materials contain natural substances that can be broken down into nutrients by beneficial microorganisms in the soil:
✅Fruit and vegetable scraps
✅ Coffee grounds and tea bags
✅ Grass clippings
✅Leaves and straw
✅ Wood ash
✅ Newspaper (shredded)
✅ Animal manure (from herbivores only!)
Things you can’t compost
These materials can have negative effects on the environment when they break down, and they might attract pests (like rodents). They’re also more difficult for bacteria to process, so it’s best to avoid them altogether:
❌ Cat, dog, or human waste
❌ Meat, fish, or dairy products
❌ Greasy or oily foods
❌ Pet waste or faeces
❌ Diseased plants or weeds
❌ Synthetic materials like plastic, metal, or glass
❌ Synthetic chemicals or fertilisers
Composting is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment while providing your garden with top-quality natural fertiliser. Just remember what you can – and can’t – compost, and keep an eye on how moist your pile is, how often you turn it, and how hot it gets, to get the most out of your compost. It’s also an awesome project to get the kids involved with (just make sure they’re properly supervised!) Happy composting!