How to Repurpose Food Scraps into DIY Compost

How to Repurpose Food Scraps into DIY Compost

How to Repurpose Food Scraps into DIY Compost

Why Repurpose Food Scraps?

Food waste is a huge problem. According to the EPA, food scraps make up 30-40% of what we throw away each year. While some foods like meat bones or citrus peels may not be suitable for compost, many of our leftovers and scraps can be repurposed into rich, organic material for gardening and landscaping through composting.

Composting food scraps is beneficial for several reasons:

  • It reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and decreases methane emissions.

  • It creates a free, natural fertilizer full of nutrients that plants thrive on.

  • It improves soil health, structure, and moisture retention.

  • It saves money since you don’t have to buy as much commercial fertilizer.

  • It allows you to recycle nutrients and complete the food cycle from soil to plate and back again.

Getting Started with Composting

Composting scraps into usable compost requires heat, moisture, oxygen, and the right balance of carbon and nitrogen. While there are many complex composting systems available, here are some simple steps to get started:

Choose a Compost Container

  • Compost bins or tumblers – Contained systems allow heat and moisture to build up. Easy to turn.

  • Piles – Low-cost but require effort turning with pitchfork or shovel.

  • Trenches – Bury scraps to compost over time.

Select a Spot

  • In your yard, garden, garage or other outdoor area.

  • With direct soil contact is best to allow organisms and moisture in.

  • Partially shaded helps prevent overheating or drying out.

Gather Brown and Green Materials

  • Browns (carbon) – dead leaves, woodchips, paper, cardboard.

  • Greens (nitrogen) – food scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds.

  • Mix roughly equal portions for best results.

Maintain Your Compost

  • Turn or stir weekly to aerate.

  • Moisten if dry, but not soaked.

  • Monitor temperature – should reach 140-160°F.

  • In 6-12 months finished compost forms.

Composting Your Food Scraps

Nearly any food scrap can be composted instead of trashed. Here’s what you can and cannot include:

DO Compost

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Bread, grains
  • Pasta, beans, rice
  • Nut shells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Eggshells
  • Shredded paper

DON’T Compost

  • Meat, fish, bones
  • Dairy products
  • Oils, grease
  • Pet waste
  • Diseased plants
  • Invasive weeds

Tips for Composting Food Scraps

  • Chop or shred large pieces to break down faster.

  • Bury scraps under layers of brown materials to discourage pests.

  • Avoid pile overload with too many scraps at once.

  • Freeze and thaw meat and cooked food scraps before adding.

  • Balance wet and dry items to maintain moisture.

With some simple preparation and maintenance, it’s easy to divert tons of food waste into a rich compost perfect for gardens, lawns, and houseplants. Give composting a try – your plants and the planet will thank you!