Here’s how I compost at home:
- The easiest way to compost at home is to just take your food scraps to a farmers market. Almost every farmers market will have someone there more than willing to take the scraps off your hands and compost it for you. At mine, there’s a booth set up especially for it, and the man who runs it is super grateful to anyone who contributes to his compost pile. This is the method I use. Just visit your local farmers market and ask if they have somewhere to donate food scraps (and other decomposable items which you can collect, like paper, cardboard, hair, etc. – all mentioned in ‘what to compost’)!
- Some farmers markets may also give you compost in exchange for your food scraps (and other decomposables). You might not have a need for this if you live in an apartment, so it’s completely up to you if you want to take the compost. It makes really great fertilizer for any houseplants though!
- I really recommend bringing a wooden spoon with you and a reusable bag. The wooden spoon will help you scrape out any remaining scraps that might cling to the pail without getting your hands dirty. I use the reusable bag to shop around as well as carry my compost pail conveniently. While it does have a handle, it can get a little tedious carrying that around when you also want to shop at the farmers market!
Now that we discussed how I compost, lets talk about what I compost (or can compost). Not everything on this list goes into my pail (simply because I live in an apartment, not a house), but I felt it was important to include everything you can compost in general.
- Fruit and vegetable scraps (ex: the ends of carrots, potato peels, strawberry crowns, banana peels, etc.)
- Hair and fur (yes, it’s biodegradable! I take any hair that clumps up in my brush and put it in my pail)
- Coffee grounds (I don’t drink coffee but my folks do!)
- Tea leaves or tea bags (I always make sure I buy tea bags that say they’re compostable – some are made using plastic!)
- Egg shells (I wash them out gently with water before I add these in)
- Nuts and seeds (pits of fruit, for example)
- Yard waste (leaves, twigs, grass clippings etc. Since I live in an apartment, this doesn’t apply to me – plus I don’t think it would all fit in the pail anyway. That said, it is biodegradable)
- Houseplants or wilted flowers in vases (I’ll probably just add my houseplants to my compost pail when they die – instead of throwing them in the trash!).
- Fireplace ashes (I don’t have a fire place, but still, biodegradable)
- Sawdust and woodchips (I’ll probably never have to put this in there, but yeah)
- Cardboard, paper, shredded newspaper (just make sure they’re not coated in plastic!)
- Hay and straw (Again, not something I’ll ever need to worry about, but felt it important to include)
- Cotton and wool rags (at the end of my cotton facial wipes, I’ll definitely be composting them!)
- Any 100% natural material/fabric (like my bamboo toothbrush – I will compost that too)
Literally, these are things I will never put in my compost pail, even if I do have access to them. And you shouldn’t either.
- Dairy products (like yogurt, butter, milk, sour cream, eggs, etc.)
- Meat or fish (bones and scraps included)
- Pet waste (like feces)
- Yard trimmings treated with pesticides (these might kill beneficial composting organisms!)
- Disposable feminine products (if you’re still using these btw, consider switching to zero waste period products!)
- Disposable diapers (consider switching over to cloth diapers for your baby)
- Fats, grease, lard, or oils
- Diseased or insect ridden plants
- Plastic lined cartons (or plastic anything for that matter)
- Coal or charcoal ash (might contain substances harmful to plants. Bamboo charcoal – like the one I use to filter my water – is okay to compost though!)
- Black walnut tree leaves or twigs (apparently this plant releases substances that may harm other plants)
Do you compost in your apartment? Do you have your own compost pail?