Composting 101: How to Make Your Own DIY At-Home Compost System

Composting 101: How to Make Your Own DIY At-Home Compost System

Here at Chef Soraya, we are passionate about doing what we can to protect our home planet and reduce our carbon footprint. The prospect of converting to fully compostable packaging, once the technology has been developed, is a top priority. Until that time, we give back any way that we can. As members of the Conservation Alliance and One Percent for the Planet, we donate 1% of our sales to non profit environmental groups. We produce our bowls in a facility powered by wind energy. We also recycle as well as compost.

Compost is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and keep methane-producing food waste out of landfills. Covered and compacted food waste in a landfill will not decompose the same way it will in a compost pile or facility. A compost pile or an industrial compost facility requires the correct ratio of brown matter, green matter, moisture, as well as oxygen to allow food waste to create the compost that enriches our soil. Brown matter (high carbon materials) includes things like dry leaves and sticks. Green matter (high nitrogen materials) includes food scraps, yard clippings, and the like.

While reducing food waste as a whole is of the utmost importance, the food waste that remains can have a new life and purpose in the form of compost. Compost may seem intimidating and frankly a little gross, but really it’s a simple process that you can start implementing in your home or neighborhood today.

Getting Started

Here in Boulder, CO, the city has made composting a no-brainer. There is a curb-side pick up program that makes industrial composting easy and readily available. Check with your local waste management company to see if curbside compost pick-up is available to you. If not, at-home compost is the way to go and can be just as easy and rewarding. Follow the instructions provided by your local waste management company if curbside compost pick up is available, the rules in each area may differ. To get started at home, follow these simple steps.

Step 1:

Keep a small compost bucket or covered container in your kitchen or another easy-to-reach location in your home. This will serve as a reminder to collect and separate food scrapes from the rest of your waste. There are odor-reducing counter-top containers available, or you can store the compost in your freezer until you are ready to take it out to your compost pile or to the curb for a compost pick up.

You may be surprised by the number everyday materials that you are able to include in home compost. However, also keep in mind the materials you should avoid composting. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) materials suitable for home compost include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cotton and Wool Rags
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Hair and fur
  • Fireplace ashes

Items to be avoided are:

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
    - Releases substances that might be harmful to plants
  • Coal or charcoal ash
    - Might contain substances harmful to plants
  • Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs*
    - Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
    - Diseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils*
    - Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps*
    - Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)*
    - Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
    - Might kill beneficial composting organisms

Check out these links for more info about composting from the EPA:

Step 2:

Choose your compost method. Depending upon your living situation, you can start a compost in anything from an enclosed indoor container to a pile in the backyard! For example, if you live in an urban environment and you’re composting mostly kitchen scraps, a worm bin or a compost tumbler could be the right fit for you. If you live in a rural environment and would be composting more yard waste, an outdoor compost pile will be the best for you.

Step 3:

Layer your material. Regardless of what method you choose, you’ll want to layer your green matter (nitrogen rich) and your brown matter (carbon rich) and make sure you turn your compost every 1-2 weeks. This will aerate your compost and prevents clumping of the compost materials.

Step 4:

You’ll know your compost is ready when it looks like rich, dark, earth and you can no longer distinguish the individual composting materials. The finished compost will be odorless and will resemble, well, dirt. Use this compost in your at-home garden or even in your window-sill herb planters. There’s a reason this stuff is called “black gold.” This soil is alive and full of life-giving nutrients that will help your plants to thrive until they too are ready to join the compost cycle.


Try It Today

Do your research and master any style compost! The important part is eliminating waste from landfills. It's one small step you can take today to improve the health of our planet and reduce your carbon footprint.

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