Even for environmentally conscious consumers, composting may seem like a step too far. Most people have learned to recycle, but the added complexity of a kitchen compost bin seems like too much of a hassle. Fortunately, composting is actually quite easy to do; many people find composting food scraps to be simpler than adding decomposing waste to an ordinary kitchen trash can. With the proper equipment, a compost bin should not smell bad or make a mess in a kitchen. Composting can reduce a household’s waste and save money.
What is Compostable?
Many people who are considering keeping a kitchen compost bin are dissuaded by the fact that they don’t know what can go into a compost bin. Most vegetable products can be composted with no problems; some animal products are also compostable. Ideally, anyone should be able to compost the following items:
• Flour and grain products like bread, cookies, rice and pasta
• Vegetable scraps such as rinds, trimmings, cores and pulp
• Coffee grounds and tea bags
• Crushed egg shells
• Expired spices
Food scraps can be composted even when they are moldy or partially eaten.
Some composting experts will also suggest composting meat, fish, oils and cheese. Others recommend against putting these products in a compost bin. Since these foods smell particularly unpleasant when they decay at room temperature, they may attract maggots or other vermin. Meat and cheese products may also alter the chemical composition of compost. Since some plants are finicky about the soil in which they grow, it is best to leave these products out of a compost bin. These items can be thrown in the kitchen trashcan.
For those who want to invest in a larger outdoor bin, certain paper products are compostable. Yard waste is also ideal for creating compost. Fallen leaves, cut grass and plant trimmings can all go into a compost bin.
What are the Benefits of Composting?
Avid gardeners may already be using a product similar to homemade compost to fertilize their yards. Although plants get their energy from the sun, they soak up the majority of the nutrients they need through their roots. Many popular household plants will fail to thrive in soil that is nutrient-poor. Compost can be mixed with ordinary soil to produce a nutrient-rich growing medium. While compost is not an ideal growing medium on its own, it can be mixed with nearly any type of soil.
Some gardeners prefer to make a concentrated liquid extract from their compost. After steeping kitchen compost or yard waste in water for several days, gardeners will drain off the liquid and use it to spray plants. This surface spray can dissuade harmful fungi from feeding on garden plants.
These homemade products are a cheap alternative for gardeners. Fungus sprays and organic potting soils with added nutrients can be costly and need to be bought each growing season. Compost can add nutrients to soil and keep plants safe at no cost to gardeners.
Composting food scraps will keep this waste material out of landfills. When food products break down in a sealed trash bag, they create potent greenhouse gasses like methane. Eco-conscious composters who live in apartments or houses without gardens can donate their compost to small farms. Some municipalities will take compost directly to farmers if the scraps are kept in an appropriate bin.
What Should an Ideal Kitchen Compost Bin Look Like?
In a kitchen composting situation, odor control is vital. A kitchen compost bin should come with a well-fitted lid that can prevent the smell of food scraps from permeating the entire room. Since most people have their hands full while cooking, this bin should have a foot pedal lid opener or a hinged lid that slides open easily. A detached lid will prove difficult to use while cooking. Outdoor compost bins usually come with detached lids so their contents can pour out easily.
Since food scraps are not the majority of a household’s trash, many people prefer to use a small metal or plastic bin that can fit in a kitchen corner or under a sink. In a kitchen where a large amount of waste is produced, a larger trashcan may also work as a composting bin. Restaurant kitchens and cafeterias will need bigger bins. Since waste at a large restaurant is emptied nightly, these bins may not need to have lids that seal perfectly.