Tips for Reducing Your Waste (Part IV): Composting

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This post is linked up with The Prairie Homestead for Homestead Barn Hop.

This is Part 4 of the Tips for Reducing Your Waste series! Don't forget to check out Part 1: Conscious ShoppingPart 2: Recycling & Repurposing, and Part 3: Donating!

Part 4: Composting 

Let me preface by saying I am in no way an expert composter. In fact, I should have had Tommy write this post because he's read several books on composting. But my main purpose of this post is to show the general how-to and why we began composting

If you talk to any major gardener or farmer they will tell you the benefits of composting are the rich, nutrient-filled soil it creates to help feed your crops.

At the moment, we do not use our compost. We simply have it set aside to decompose and then disperse it in the woods. My primary reason to begin composting was to reduce our waste production. I was actually inspired by a post on Young House Love and decided it was the next step in my waste-reducing-life.

What can you compost?

Honestly, just as I talked about in my recycling post, you'd be amazed at how many things are compost-able! The most common contents of our compost pile include:
  • Banana peels 
  • Coffee grounds
  • Use tea bags
  • Egg shells (read: we over 3 dozen eggs a week in our house)
  • Apple cores
  • Peeled potato skins
  • Vegetable scraps (broccoli stems, celery ends, etc.)
  • Peanut shells
There are literally dozens of other things we COULD be composting (such as toilet paper rolls, used matches, and stale bread) but we're still new and our space is limited so some things are just easier continuing to recycling or toss out. 

The System

In our kitchen, we have an old bucket to throw our compost fixings in throughout the day. My original plan was that I'd take it out to our DIY compost bin every few days as necessary.
Our Lovely Indoor Composting Bucket
DIY Compost Bin

However, it turns out when your house is eating 2-4 bananas and 5-7 eggs everyday, a tiny bin fills up reeeeally quickly.

As in after only a week of composting it was obvious that we needed to create an actual pile for all this goodness...

(Don't freak out. It's just scraps and dirt.)
Thankfully, my YHL had the solution and we upgraded our baby compost bin to a much more spacious spot. (The added bonus is that we can now have enough space to add our grass clippings and turn the pile which helps to speed up the decomposing process.)

Evelyn helped me build it. (And this is before I threw are old food scraps in there I promise!)

What I've learned while composting

  • If you want to use it for a garden, there really is a science to it. Our ultimate goal is to be able to use the compost; I'd love to have twice as big of an area to be able to add even more scraps/worms/turning potential to make optimal planting soil
  • If you don't add dairy products, have your bin ventilated or have an open pile, there actually isn't much smell (thank goodness)
  • Animals love compost. Thankfully for us it's not an issue as we're on a few acres and our pile isn't too close to our house, but I've definitely interrupted a raccoon's lunch once or twice... If you live on a small lot, definitely read about how to properly secure your bin to avoid pests
  • Like recycling, it just becomes a habit. Sometimes I feel awkward when I'm cooking somewhere other than home and I have scraps but no where to put them. I've almost considered bringing a doggy bag and bringing them home versus throwing them away... 
  • Overall, I would estimate that composting has decreased our waste output by 30%.  Recycling is still our biggest waste reducer (easily 50%+), but composting comes in a close second (and if we composted some of our recyclables - they would be neck and neck).

What does your composting system consist of? Do you have any tips for creating garden compost?

Thank you following along on our journey to simplicity. Please be sure to learn about our family, like our page on Facebook, and visit the right column to subscribe to our posts :)

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

Philippians 4:12

God Bless!