indoor composting

Composting is one of the simplest and most impactful things we can do to cut food waste,  and it’s a simple, affordable way to feed our plants. Before you toss aside the idea of composting at home due to space, climate, time or know-how, consider bringing it inside! An indoor compost bin is as effective as its outdoor counterpart and even easier to use!

About 30 percent of the U.S. food supply is thrown away—much of it ending up in landfills when it could have been composted. Among the many benefits of composting, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is that it helps reduce the release of methane (a greenhouse gas), reduces or eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers, maintains soil moisture—which reduces watering needs, and repurposes food scraps into nutrient-rich compost, which feeds the plants that nourish us. If you think your composting efforts won’t make a difference, consider that from farm to fork, consumers are the worst food waste offenders, responsible for upwards of two-thirds of the country’s food waste.

Get started with a lidded bin, such as a storage container, garbage can, or crate made of plastic, metal, or wood with a tray to catch leaks. Depending on the space where you’ll store it, a 10- to 18-gallon bin should be adequate. (You can also find plenty of ready-made composters online.) Under the sink storage, next to garbage and recycling bins, a closet, or basement are practical placement options. Composting requires oxygen for decomposition to occur, so drill holes (about a quarter-inch) spaced one to two inches apart into the lid, the bottom, and sides of your bin. You’ll also need a trowel to turn the contents.

All you need to compost are greens and browns. Green materials, like food scraps, provide nitrogen; browns include dried leaves and shredded paper, and bring carbon in to the mix. Strive for a balance between the two, maintaining a moisture level of a damp sponge, as well as the presence of heat, which means decomposition is happening. Chop contents small for quicker breakdown. Keep meat, fish, dairy, fats, greasy foods and pet waste out of your compost, as they attract pests, cause odors and other risks, such as bacteria.

After two to four months of adding content, turning to supply oxygen, and checking for moisture—add more greens if it’s too dry, more browns if it’s too wet. You should have soil-like compost at this point. Remove as much as you need to feed houseplants, window box herbs, and other garden plants, but leave some in the bin to continue the cycle.

Indoor composting makes it a snap to go green at home. Repurpose food scraps into nutrient-rich compost for healthier plants, a healthier home and a healthier planet.


Article by Lori Zanteson, who writes for Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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