New to composting? We’re here to help! 

Written by Morgan Egan

Did you know that almost half of the food waste in the rubbish bin could have been composted? And that’s not to mention all the paper and cardboard you could compost too (don’t worry, we’ll get to all of that later). So, whether you’re ready to dive into the world of composting, or you’d like to dip your toe in, we’ve got all the info you need to get started. 

Why should you start composting? 

Composting may seem intimidating to the beginner, but it’s actually really easy to do! The amazing thing about composting is that it’s an all-natural process, which means very little work is needed on your part. As long as there’s the right ingredients, you can just sit back and let nature do its thing. It’s also inexpensive to set up and can be changed to fit your composting needs. 

But it’s not just about us. We’re here to help the environment, and composting can aid with that too. We all know we produce too much waste (and we’ve got full bins to prove it). And while we can do our bit to reduce, reuse, and recycle, there’s a lot of waste that ends up in landfill – kitchen scraps and plant waste being just some of them.  

While this organic matter does breakdown in landfill, it undergoes a different chemical process. This process ends up releasing a biogas that’s 50% methane and 50% CO2, aka those harmful greenhouse gasses that are contributing to climate change. Composting removes this process, and helps the organic matter break down naturally, giving you nutrient rich soil.

As for your household, by composting, you’ll find quickly that your bin bags are getting lighter, and your black bin a lot less full each week. This means no more nightly arguments about who has to take out the bins, and the satisfaction knowing you’re helping to reduce your environmental impact. It’s a win win! 

Let’s get started 

You’re one step closer to making your very own compost! Can you tell we’re just as excited as you are? So, first thing’s first, what compost bin should you get?  

There are plenty of different types, all ranging in sizes, shapes, and materials. The best way to start is to look at your space and see what size can fit with what you have. Only have a small garden? A tube-shaped compost bin is your best bet. If you have a bigger space to work with, try a wooden compost bin. Or, if you really like to get your hands dirty, why not make your own? There’s plenty of tutorials online, and they can even be made for as little as £15.  

For those that have never seen a compost bin before, they’re less like a ‘bin’ and more like a set of walls. In other words, they don’t have a bottom! This is so that any microorganisms and critters can get into the compost to help break it down, and any moisture and liquid can leek out. So, it’s best to put your compost onto soil or grass – not pavement.  

How to compost 

You’ve got your compost bin all ready to go – now it’s time to add in the special ‘ingredients’ (aka last night’s soup scraps). But before we start throwing things into the bin, there’s some things you need to know. 

Bugs! Whether you think they’re cute, or you’d rather they didn’t exist, bugs and microorganisms are a vital part of any compost bin. They’re what gets the compost working and break down everything into that beautiful dark brown soil every gardener loves. So, our job is to make those little critters happy by creating the perfect environment for them.  

How do we do that? Simple! By adding the right amount of greens and browns.  

What are greens and browns, you ask?  

Greens = nitrogen rich, organic matter. These are your items that will rot quickly, such as fruit and veggie scraps, flower cuttings, and grass cuttings. The bugs really love their greens, and it’s what gets the heat going in your compost. 

Browns = dead, woody matter that’s full of carbon. This includes, branches, dead plants, loo roll middles, paper, and cardboard. Browns add structure and body to your compost, and ensures there’s plenty of oxygen in the material. This ensures the critters have enough air to do their job. 

It’s time to create compost layers 

So, once you have some greens and browns gathered up, just pop them into the bin. Think of your compost as a lasagna, and you’re layering and building it with all your ingredients. When you’re first starting out, try and aim for 50% greens and 50% browns. These can be adjusted later depending on how your compost is turning out (see tips and tricks below for more details). It’s important to note, you don’t have to be exact with your greens and browns. Just put in what you think is best. 

Now, you wait 

And that’s pretty much it! Easy, peasy.  

To top it up, keep a small bin in your kichen to collect all the greens, as well as a bin to place all your browns. Once they’re full you can empty them into your compost so they can be broken down.  

You’ll be able to find compost at the bottom of your bin in between 9-12 months, depending on your compost’s conditions. We know, it’s a long wait, but you can’t rush nature’s process! 

Once you have your beautiful pile, you can use your compost in your garden or house plants to give them all the nutrients they need. 

Some helpful tips and tricks 

Is your compost smelly? That means there could be too much nitrogen from the greens. Just add more carbon rich browns to your compost and that should help.  

Have you had your compost bin for over 12 months with no results? There may not be enough nitrogen to help get things going to break down everything. So, add something high in nitrogen like coffee grounds.  

We hope this helps in your composting journey! Just remember, it’s really hard to mess up composting, so don’t stress. You’re taking a huge step in helping the environment, and for that, we applaud you. And have fun!

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