Easy Compost Tips: How to Start Composting at Home April 5, 2021

by Amanda Li Tips and Tricks

In honour of Earth Month, we’re sharing our top composting tips so you can build greener habits into your daily routine!

We’re passionate about reducing the impact of food waste (our meal kits come with precisely portioned ingredients for this very reason), but composting is another easy and eco-friendly tool you can add to your arsenal. 

So whether you’re a complete compost newbie — or you’d just like to know more about what you should and shouldn’t compost — our handy guide has you covered.

Composting Tips for Beginners

There’s no one right way to compost — it all comes down to personal preference and factors like how much space you have available. 

The various types of bins and systems come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the easiest and most common methods for composting is an open pile. This works best if you have some land in your backyard that’s far enough away from your neighbours (in case of any foul odours). 

If you’d prefer to build your own bin, you can do so with materials like wood pallets, chicken wire, and cinder blocks. Alternatively, you can also purchase a bin at your local gardening store.

Fresh Tip: Elevate your bin on a wooden pallet to encourage airflow and increase drainage.

How to Start Composting at Home

All composting requires three basic components:

  • Browns – Dry, brittle materials like branches, twigs, dead leaves, and newspaper.
  • Greens – Nitrogen-rich materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, coffee grounds, and fruit scraps.
  • Water – The right amount of water is necessary to sustain your compost.

Getting the balance of soft green materials to dry brown materials is key to enhance the speed of composting. Aim for roughly 25% to 50% green organic matter, and make sure the rest is comprised of brown materials, like cardboard, paper, dead leaves, and yard waste. 

Regular mixing or turning of the compost helps to increase decomposition, so be sure to keep the following tools on hand: pitchforks, square-point shovels, and a water hose with a spray head.

Picking a Place to Compost

Ideally, you want to choose an area that’s partially shaded to keep your compost from drying out in the sun, and to prevent it from getting saturated during bouts of rainfall.

If possible, position it near a water source, and place your pile or bin directly onto soil. This will ensure it’s accessible to insects and soil-dwelling microbes that do the legwork of breaking down your food scraps.

How to Build Your Compost

The easiest way to build and maintain your compost pile is to use the lasagna layering technique — AKA alternating between brown and green layers. 

Start with a thick nest of twigs and branches at the base, then create a layer of brown materials, and add a layer of green waste on top – repeat! Continue this layering process as more materials and compostables are added to the pile (just make sure that brown layers are two or three times thicker than the green layers).

What to Compost

Do you find yourself regularly asking, “What should I compost?” Don’t worry, we’ve got all the dirt when it comes to the do’s and don’ts of composting – literally! Refer to this handy list whenever you need a reminder.

DO’S

Fruits and Veggies

Your leftover kitchen scraps will decompose well and help create a rich fertilizer.

Tea Bags & Coffee Grounds

Make sure to remove the staple!

Herbs

Similar to fruits and veggies, herbs and composts are friends. You can also include certain plants and leaves when they’ve gone beyond their shelf life.

Eggshells

Like your body, composts need calcium. Eggshells help bring that calc to the party. TIP: Many plants also love the calcium in eggshells, so feel free to add to a garden or potted plant.

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds themselves are great candidates for composts. Some shells take longer to decompose, but crushing them can help move that process along.

Grains & Legumes

Grains and legumes should be composted sparingly! Just make sure to offset with carbon materials like dried leaves or newspapers.

P.S. Did you know the HelloFresh kit bags are compostable? Just remove the sticker and voila! The perfect vessel to hold your compost.

DON’TS

Meat & Seafood

Meat and seafood can attract pests, and that’s just no fun! Plus, they can slow down the composting process for other materials. However, these items can sometimes be composted depending on the makeup of the compost system – but be sure to double-check.

Cheese & Dairy

While these items decompose fairly quickly, they do it SO fast that it creates a foul smell and attracts unwanted visitors.

Cooking Oils

Too much cooking oil can really slow down the composting process, so it’s best to keep the grease away.

Plastic Materials

Unfortunately plastic just won’t break down. Best to save these for the recycling bin!

If your city or town offers a composting program — awesome! While this guide is handy at home, we always recommend checking with your city for their special tips and tricks. In fact, they may even be able to take some of the don’ts from our list!

Looking to offset these compost tips with something more, ahem, fresh? Try these D.I.Y. ways to Make Your Home Smell Like Spring!

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