How To Start Composting

Everyone knows about the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. But another important step of reducing the amount of waste we produce everyday is composting.

Composting is a great way to limit the amount of trash you produce, and can help create a healthy soil environment to plant new vegetables and other plants. Composting can help you start a home garden, which is great for your bank account, and even better for the environment.

The EPA reports that in 2013 the US generated about 254 million tons of trash. Of that, only about 34% was recycled or composted. Most people in the Austin area recycle, but not many compost. Composting can seem like a complicated process, but after you’ve started, it’s very easy to keep up with.


Step 1: Pick a Container

The cheapest option for a composting bin is to get a storage bin from a grocery store. There are other options made specifically for composting like this, but they can be a bit pricey, and not necessary unless you are producing an extraordinarily large amount of trash.

It is also helpful to have a small bucket or container in your kitchen to put scraps in until you are ready to put them into your composting bin. The type and size of bin you choose also depends on the location of your bin. For college students, most of us live in apartments and will keep it on our porch, but those can be pretty small, so a smaller bin would be better.


Step 2: Layering

To start your bin, it is helpful to add a layer of gravel on the bottom to help with drainage. Make sure before you are ready to start you have gathered enough “green matter” (vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc.) and “brown matter” (cardboard, dead leaves, paper egg cartons, tissues, newspaper, etc.). You will then lay down a 6 inch layer of “brown matter” and a 2-3 inch layer of “green matter”.


Step 3: Watering

It is important to keep your composting bin moist, because this aids with the composting process. Many people like to add earthworms to their bins, and they require a moist environment to survive as well. You don’t want to over water, however; only a damp feeling is required. Keeping up with your composting bin is like taking care of a plant. In order for it to grow and thrive, you have to check on it every day and make sure that it has the right amount of water.


Step 4: Turning

One of the most important steps in composting is turning. This is necessary because if you don’t turn your compost, it will just sit on top and the bottom will never get a chance to breathe. The more you turn your compost, the faster it will break down.


Once your compost is the color of healthy soil, you are ready to use it in your garden!