Composting: How to Start Composting Kitchen Waste

Even though Earth Day is only officially one day a year, we like to celebrate the Earth year-round by being eco-friendly. Composting is just one way we do that at Health Warrior. It’s kind of like our way of thanking the Earth for giving us the wholesome superfoods we all love.

Composting is the process of breaking down organic materials naturally into a waste matter called ‘humus’ that is essential to the fertility of soil. It’s basically the natural way to recycle.

Benefits of Composting:

  • It’s good for gardening: With compost material, you won’t need to buy chemical fertilizer for your garden. Think of compost like natural fertilizer. Your plants will love it!
  • It lessens our landfills: According to the EPA, 30% of landfill waste is food scraps and yard waste that should be composted instead. That’s a lot of reusable items that take up space and contribute to the release of a greenhouse gas called methane.
  • It’s superb for soil: Composting encourages the work of little microscopic bacteria and fungi to break down organic material into a rich nutrient-filled material called humus. It also returns necessary nutrients to the soil that make it better for growing things.

And you don’t need to own your own home to do it, either. Apartment, condo, townhome — it’s possible to compost almost anywhere. Plus, it doesn’t need to be overly complicated to get started. Don’t worry about things like worm composting or carbon/nitrogen ratios at first. It’s more important to just get started; you can refine your composting process later.

Getting started in composting is as simple as 1-2-3:

Step 1: Set up your composting pile

Decide where you want to set up your composting pile, and decide if you want to start one in a bin or just on bare earth. The EPA recommends finding a dry, shady spot near a water source for easier composting. If you have a backyard, a composting pile on bare earth is usually easy to do. Bare earth allows worms to contribute to your composting. If you don’t have a yard, find a place where you can leave a bin for long periods of time. Planters work well because they already come with drainage holes and a tray that allows extra water to leak out.

Finally, find something to cover your pile with: a lid or tarp. This will keep the area moist and warm, while preventing the rain from overwatering your pile.

Step 2: Remember to toss only compostable waste

Here’s a mnemonic to help you figure out what kind of organic waste to compost: If it’s naturally green or brown, it goes down. Brown includes things like dead leaves, bark, bush clippings, and fallen branches. Green includes plant materials and food scraps, like grass clippings, vegetable scraps, egg shells, and even coffee. Obviously that doesn’t include inorganic items like plastic. Help the decomposition process along by cutting scraps into smaller pieces.

Try and balance the amount of greens and browns you add to your pile; don’t have much more of one than the other.

Step 3: Water and stir occasionally

Compost piles need a wee bit of maintenance every now and then. They need to stay moist, so make sure to add some water every now and then. Then set a calendar reminder to ‘turn’ or mix your compost every couple of weeks to aerate the pile, allowing oxygen to get to work on decomposing the pile. Well-maintained piles should not smell bad or attract pests.

When the bottom of the pile looks dark and rich (kind of like the soil you can buy at the plant nursery), then it’s ready to use. That’s all there is to it. Really!

See how composting can be easier than it seems? Now take what you just learned and start your compost pile today.

Learn more about superfoods: Why are chia seeds good for you?