How to Save Money by Composting Your Food Scraps at Home
Why Compost Food Scraps?
Composting your food scraps at home can help you save money in a few key ways:
Reduces Waste Sent to Landfills
Food scraps make up a large percentage of household waste. When sent to landfills, food scraps take up valuable space and release methane gas as they decompose. Composting keeps food waste out of landfills.
Produces Free Fertilizer
The end result of composting is nutrient-rich compost that can be used to fertilize your garden, houseplants, lawn, etc. Buying fertilizer and soil amendments can be expensive. Making your own compost eliminates that cost.
May Qualify for Tax Rebates
Some municipalities offer tax rebates or credits for households that compost their food waste rather than sending it to the landfill. Composting can save you money on your taxes in eligible areas.
Saves Money on Garbage Collection
Some trash haulers charge by volume, so reducing food waste can directly reduce the size and cost of your garbage container and collection. Even with flat-rate billing, less trash pickup means lower costs for the waste management company which could result in savings passed down to consumers over time.
How to Start Composting at Home
Composting at home is easy, affordable, and accessible to anyone with a backyard, porch, or balcony. Follow these steps:
Choose a Compost System
Select a compost bin, tumbler, or pile system that fits your space and needs. Outdoor compost bins range from simple wooden frames to enclosed plastic bins. Compost tumblers make turning easier. And open compost piles work fine too, but may attract pests. You can buy composters or make your own.
Find the Right Spot
Identify a dry, partially shaded spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin. The ideal location is directly on soil so nutrients and organisms can access the compost.
Add Brown and Green Materials
Creating the proper ratio of carbon-rich “browns” (dry leaves, cardboard, wood chips) and nitrogen-rich “greens” (food scraps, grass clippings) is key to effective composting. Generally aim for 2 parts browns to 1 part greens.
Maintain Proper Moisture
The compost should have the moisture content of a wrung-out sponge. Turning the pile and watering when dry prevents it from getting too soggy or dry.
Turn and Aerate the Compost
Give your compost a stir weekly or monthly to aerate the pile which speeds decomposition. In a tumbling composter, simply turn the drum. For piles or contained bins, use a pitchfork or compost aeration tool.
Let It Decompose
With the right mix of materials and some occasional turning for aeration, the compost should fully decompose within 3-9 months. Finished compost is crumbly and rich brown in color.
What Can Be Composted?
Many household food scraps and yard waste items can be composted:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Bread, grains, pasta
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Tea bags
- Egg shells
- Nut shells
- Shredded cardboard, paper
- Paper towels, napkins
- Cotton and wool rags
- Grass clippings
- Leaves, straw, hay
Avoid meat, fish, bones, dairy, fats, diseased plants, and weeds with seeds which can attract pests and rodents.
Using Your Finished Compost
After 3-9 months, your compost will be ready to use. Here are some ways to utilize this black gold:
- Mix into garden beds & pots before planting to enrich soil. Can also be used as potting mix for containers.
- Top dress lawns with a thin layer to provide nutrients for grass.
- Mulch around plants to suppress weeds and retain moisture.
- Blend into seed starting mix to boost nutrients for seedlings.
- Use in place of fertilizer when growing vegetables and flowers.
The rich compost provides nutrients for plants and helps retain moisture in soil. So enjoy the financial and environmental benefits of recycling your food scraps and yard waste into homegrown, organic compost!