A Guide to Selecting a Compost Bin
The Food and Drug Administration estimated that 63 million tons of food waste is generated by the commercial, institutional, and private consumer sectors. Of these 63 million tons, only 4% is recycled in the form of compost. The rest ends up getting thrown into landfills in the United States each year. Composting is a great way to reduce waste and contribute to a healthier environment. And using a compost bin in particular can help speed up the process, making it easier and more convenient for you. The compost can be used as fertilizer for your yard, garden, or house plants.
There are compost bins for indoor use, where you can throw your kitchen scraps. When that’s full, you then can transfer the compost to a larger outdoor compost bin, where you can also throw in yard waste, such as dead leaves. Over time, this will decompose to a type of homogenous fertilizer to help you create nutrient-rich soil that can be used for gardening or landscaping. There are also compost bins that use earthworms to accelerate the process. And you’d be surprised: many of these indoor composting bins can be a stylish addition to your kitchen!
What are the advantages of a compost bin?
Composting food waste helps the environment, since there is less bulk in our nation’s landfills. It’s also beneficial for your garden since you use organic fertilizer. And a compost bin can help you reduce odors and insects commonly associated with traditional composting methods.
What kinds of things can I add to my compost bin?
You can divide compost into green and brown waste, where brown waste contributes carbon, and green waste contributes nitrogen.
Brown waste: Wood chips and wood ashes, cardboard, newspaper, sawdust, and leaves. If you see that your compost is too moist, add more dry brown waste.
Green waste: Peels from fruits and vegetables, grains, egg shells, coffee grounds, grass clippings, tea leaves, and weeds. If you see that your compost is too dry, add more green waste, or add water.
What not to add: Avoid adding protein-containing scraps, such as meat, fish, or dairy. When these foods decompose, they can cause the compost to be infected with E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. The decaying meat and fish can also attract flies and maggots. Also, don’t put oils in your compost bin, because oil can slow down the breakdown of the waste by blocking air flow. And if you are using a worm composting bin, you should also avoid citrus fruit peels, because they can harm earthworms.
Types of Compost Bins
Looking at the Best Reviews Guide’s list of compost bins, we see a few popular options:
Indoor compost bin: There are small compost bins that you can keep in your kitchen, and deposit your food waste in the compost bin, instead of your garbage pail. One example is the Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin. It has a capacity of 1.3 gallons and has an activated charcoal filter in the lid to absorb any odors. When your indoor compost bin is full, you transfer the contents to your outdoor compost bin.
Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin
Outdoor compost bin: You’ll empty out your indoor compost bin into a larger outdoor unit which has more ventilation and can allow for even faster decomposition. An example is the Geobin 246-gallon Expandable Compost Bin. It’s made from polyethylene plastic which won’t degrade or leach into the compost.
Geobin 246-gallon Expandable Compost Bin
Tumbling compost bin: Another type of compost bin has a mechanism by which you can spin the compost around. This speeds up the decomposition so that you can have compost for your garden in 4-6 weeks or less! An example is the Miracle-Gro Small Single-Chamber Outdoor Compost Bin. It’s a single-chamber compost bin. There are also double-chamber compost bins, to let you add fresh waste to the second bin while the first bin is still decomposing.
Miracle-Gro Small Single-Chamber and Double Chamber Outdoor Compost Bins
Worm composting bins: There are also composting bins that have earthworms inside, known as “vermicomposters”. One example is the Worm Factory 360 Composting System. Earthworms can eat half of their body weight every day. And that helps you break down compost much faster. You can buy composting worms and bedding material, and place them in the bottom tray. You then add kitchen scraps and paper to the tray. When the first tray is full, you can put another tray on top. The first tray will take around 3 months to be composted, and each successive tray will take only one month. The worms can travel up through the various trays.
Worm Factory 360 Composting System
What reviewers say
Here are some customers’ impressions about the compost bins that they bought:
What to do with the compost: Even if you don’t have a garden or lawn, there’s still a benefit to making compost in a compost bin. There are composting collection points that have drop-off sites where you can bring your compost.
Can suffice with an outdoor compost bin: One customer bought a kitchen compost bin, but eventually regretted it since the bin always needs a liner bag, which adds to the waste. They eventually settled for always dumping their kitchen scraps directly into their outdoor compost bin.
Here are some features and options to look for when choosing a compost bin:
Materials: You’ll see that indoor compost bins will come in easy-to-clean materials, such as plastic, ceramic, and stainless steel. There are stainless steel compost bins, such as the Epica Compost Bin, that are specially molded from a single piece, instead of welded together. This ensures that it won’t corrode and leak over time. Still, some customers who bought a stainless steel bin later moved over to a plastic or ceramic bin, since there is no possibility of them corroding.
Charcoal filters: Many indoor compost bins have a charcoal compost bin filter that absorbs odors. In many instances, you can clean the filter by washing it with warm soapy water and rinsing it out. But you usually have to replace the filter every six months. (But note that the Chef’n EcoCrock Counter Compost Bin uses two charcoal filters, and some brands, like the Bamboozle Kitchen Compost Bin, recommend changing the filters every two months.)
Odorless composting: There is also a composting kit that doesn’t use charcoal filters. The All Seasons Indoor Composter Starter Kit uses Bokashi bran which works as an activator so that bacteria and fungi can decompose the food waste.
All Seasons Indoor Composter Starter Kit
How big should your bin be: The amount of compost that you can use will depend on how many plants you have. If you just have a few houseplants, you can settle for a small, gallon-size household compost bin. But if you have a lawn or garden, you should spread from 1-3 inches of compost onto the soil in the fall or spring, using less for clay soil, and more for sandy soil. One customer who bought a 5-gallon bin said he and his family of 5 manage to fill up the bin in a week.
We went through some of the most popular compost bins in the Best Reviews Guide list. There are indoor bins from plastic, ceramic, and stainless steel, that are equipped with filters to absorb any odors. And there are outdoor bins with a much bigger capacity. You can also employ worms in specially-designed compost bins to help get your composting done faster and more efficiently. Whatever you decide, a compost bin benefits you, your plants, and the environment!