How to Compost in 4 Simple Steps

Whether you’re a longtime recycling enthusiast or just got inspired by the latest IPCC report, composting is among the easiest and most essential ways to nudge your lifestyle toward green living. A brilliant fit for homeowners and apartment dwellers alike, composting enriches the soil, reduces your carbon footprint, and keeps your local ecosystem on track. Thankfully, this eco-friendly practice may be simpler than you think and is a habit you can begin immediately with minimal cost and resources. To help you get started, here are a few tips on composting at home.

Read on to learn how to compost in four easy steps.

1. Find the Perfect Space

Most backyards (and a number of shared courtyard niches in apartment complexes) are tailor-made for composting. Scout out an area that’s not too exposed, and where you’ll be able to compost roughly three feet wide and three feet deep. Ideally, your compost pile should be located in a dry, shady area near a water source.

2. Buy a Composting Bin

While basic plastic composting bins can be found at most home and garden stores, you may enjoy the extra touch of creating your own. Simply grab some fencing wire (make sure it’s small enough to keep material from falling out), or build a more impressive structure using wood slats or masonry blocks. Again, a three-foot circumference works best, but either round or square-shaped bins will be equally effective.

3. Choose Between Hot and Cold Composting

For those who are constantly on the go, cold composting may be the best choice, since it requires minimal effort and virtually no upkeep. For cold composting, simply gather organic materials and add them to your pile. While this process can take about a year to yield full decomposition, hot composting is more hands-on and delivers results faster, typically within a three-month time span. For hot composting, layer green materials and brown materials (we’ll get into the difference in the next step) at eight- to 12-inch intervals, and lightly water your compost heap to keep it damp but not soggy. A key factor in how to compost, as this step helps keep microorganisms healthy and active. You’ll also want to turn your compost pile about once a week with a garden fork, ensuring that everything stays fresh and evenly distributed.

4. Add Your Materials

There are two types of composting materials, and the best compost piles include a mix of both. Green materials (which provide nitrogen) include organic refuse like grass clippings, coffee grounds, eggshells, and fruit and vegetable scraps. Brown materials (which provide carbon) include environmental waste like dead leaves, tree bark, sawdust, and straw. Successful compost heaps have a roughly even distribution of green and brown materials, which undergo development when a bit of water is added.

Once you’ve got your space, materials, and composting strategy in place, you’ll be ready to create the perfect compost pile.

Up next, keep reading for the healthiest cleaning products for your home (and the planet).

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