In a previous blog post, our member Laila Reimanis discussed the five parts of the “Re-“ motto: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot. This post will focus of that last part, Rot.
While making meals and snacks, many of us accumulate waste in the form of compostable materials such as banana peels, vegetable scraps, etc. These materials, which would decompose regularly, might not do so in a landfill setting, creating a lot of unnecessary waste. An alternative to sending these materials to the landfill with the rest of our trash is a compost bin! Inside a compost bin, materials are allowed to rot, before ultimately turning into a nutrient rich soil-like material.
While a compost bin might not be the most feasible option for students living in the dorms, it is a great option for those of us who have moved into apartments. You can store your bin out-of-sight, under your kitchen sink, in a closet, or even outside if you have a good place do so.
There are lots of options when starting a compost bin. There are bins made specifically for this purpose, but they can range on the pricier side. A bucket or plastic storage container usually can do the job just as well. You can add worms to your compost if you want things to break down faster. If you do this your bin will need to stay inside to avoid freezing your poor worm friends during the colder months.
I’ve provided links below to video tutorials for several different kinds of compost bins.
Super short tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w82zsSfOycg
Instructions on how to create an outdoor compost bin in contact with the dirt, provides a good description on the proper balance of materials in a healthy bin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-uxdrMt4k0
Tutorial for a cheap, easy indoor worm compost bin, using plastic storage containers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvUgdDZx66E
So, what should you add to your compost bin?
· Vegetable scraps
· Fruit peels and scraps
· Coffee grounds
· Tea leaves/bags
· Shredded paper - must not be specially treated like magazine paper
· Washed Eggshells
DO NOT compost:
· Meat scraps - May attract pests if outdoors and take a very long time to break down if indoors
· Bones - May attract pests if outdoors and take a very long time to break down if indoors
· Dairy - May attract pests if outdoors and take a very long time to break down if indoors
· Bread - May attract pests if outdoors
· Fats/Oils - May attracts pests if outdoors
· Pet feces
· Biodegradable plastics - While they do theoretically break down, they may not do so at the temperatures/in the time-frame of a regular person’s compost bin
· Non-compostable trash
Once you’ve successfully got your compost bin up and running, and things begin breaking down, you get to decide what to do with the nutrient rich compost. I plan to use mine to give an extra nutrient boost to my indoor potted plants and bring the rest to my mother in Spokane. If you have no use for it, you can find a friend or family member who gardens and spare them the trouble of buying fertilizer from the store.
For those of us who can implement composting in our lives, it’s one more way to bring ourselves a step further into a zero-waste lifestyle. Ultimately, that’s what living zero-waste is all about. It isn’t about changing the way you live overnight, but instead, making any small changes you can, as you become more able make changes.
~Written by Caitlyn Chilinski~