WHY SHOULD I COMPOST? And what the heck can go into my bin?

courtesy: anneassimmons.com

courtesy: anneassimmons.com


In my next few blog posts, I’ll be addressing some of my readers’ most burning green questions.

Susan asks:

Do I really need to start composting? I feel like I should be doing it, but I don’t really know what is safe to throw in the bin. So I’m just avoiding the whole thing.

I hear you, Susan and you’re in good company. Lots of people who are going green haven’t made the leap to the compost pile.

There’s a reason why composting is the last of 4R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and ROT). It has a bad rap of being intimidating, way too much effort, and, well…kinda gross. Very few people would say they dig the scent or sight of freshly decomposing organic matter.

But I assure you these are merely psychological barriers. If you compost right (and right away) it can be easy and pretty much odor-free.

So Susan, my answer is YES! Composting really does make a huge dent in the amount of garbage we humans create. YES! It’ll be easy for you to start. And YES! You won’t believe the stuff you can compost – like egg shells, dryer lint, even your morning coffee grounds.

Just read on…


  • It’s easy. You have to throw your garbage somewhere. Why not toss it into the compost pail instead of the garbage can? Just keep both bins right next to each other in the kitchen.

    courtesy: yellowknife.ca

    courtesy: yellowknife.ca

  • It’s the ultimate form of recycling. As your food scraps and other cast-offs break down, they make a really rich soup that can go back into the soil, nourishing the earth and the next generations of plants, animals and people.
  • It keeps your garbage lean and mean. The average person tosses 4-5 pounds of waste into the garbage every day, and at least a third is stuff that could be composted. Our landfills are overfull, and we’re running out of places to stash all that trash. You can make less garbage by composting!
  • It helps the Earth keep its cool. When you toss into the compost instead of the trash, all that organic matter breaks down aerobically (with oxygen). If it went to the landfill and got buried under piles of other garbage, it would decompose slowly and anaerobically (without oxygen). This creates tons of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming. So by composting you’re reducing the amount of methane in the atmosphere, and keeping the planet cooler.

HOW DO I COMPOST? It’s as easy as 1-2-3

Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 11.45.45 AM1. Get a kitchen bin. You don’t need fancy bags and deodorizers or any bells and whistles if you empty and rinse it every day. This here’s my compost pail – just a step-open mini garbage can from the hardware store.

2. Fill with compostables. (see WHAT CAN I COMPOST? below)

3. Empty daily. If your town collects compost, just dump it into your “yard waste” bin.  Cities and towns all over, from San Francisco to New York City are starting municipal compost collection programs. If you’re not sure about your town policy, call your refuse company and find out. If they don’t collect compost yet, start a petition and get them on the bandwagon!


A lot more than you think.

Kitchen food scraps, of course, but here are other compostables that may surprise you:

  • pizza boxes
  • dust bunnies
  • paper towels and Kleenex
  • abandoned Halloween candy
  • egg cartons (the paperboard kind)
  • Q-tips (the ones with a paper stick)
  • balloons (the latex kind)
  • plants and flowers that are past their prime
  • newspaper

For an entertaining and exhaustive list,  check out Care2.


If you’re still not ready to make the leap to composting, but you want to make a move in the green direction, try buying kitchen trash bags that are biodegradable. That way, your compostables that go to landfill can get a fighting chance at breaking down faster. Green Legacy is my personal fave, because they’re strong, and they wait to break down at the dump, not in your kitchen.

What are some of your composting trials and tribulations?




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