Skip to main content

Why you should start composting at home

Did you know your kitchen waste can become a low-cost, nutrient-rich solution and amazing fertilizer for your garden, flowers, or yard? According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. “Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away, and could be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas,” its website says.

“As a soil junkie and zero-waste advocate, I highly recommend composting, especially for those who love gardening,” Marci Zaroff, founder of ECOFashion Corp, explains to 21Oak. “Waste isn’t waste until it is wasted!”

Recommended Videos

“While ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ is still the most logical and powerful protocol for material use, tossing goods into recycling bins should be what we do after reducing our consumption and reusing existing materials. This is why the idea of composting is so beneficial,” adds Gay Browne, personal environmental health advisor and founder of Greenopia.

Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Community Environmental Council also encourages community members to compost at home. “It’s a great way to divert food waste from the landfill while creating healthy soil in your yard. Some municipalities offer low-cost compost bins,” Sigrid Wright, CEO, explains. “We have a program of this type in Santa Barbara County, and it’s very popular.”

Woman putting items into a compost container
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why should you compost?

There are many beneficial reasons to start composting at home, says Browne. For one, it’s free. “You get to use kitchen waste, lawn clippings, leaves, and other vegetation that would otherwise get thrown away,” she notes. “In fact, you might even save money on landfill fees.”

Additionally, it benefits your soil. “Potting mixes and soils that are rich in compost produce vigorous plants regardless of whether you’re growing vegetables, growing herbs, or organic rose gardening,” Browne adds.

And, it feels good to keep the world green. “When else can you turn trash into treasure?” she points out. “Plus, scraps stay out of the landfill, reducing your footprint.”

What do you need to compost?

Browne explains that all composting requires three basic ingredients:

  • Browns: This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
  • Greens: This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
  • Water: Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.

There are a large variety of things that are allowed to be composted, explains Browne. They include fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, nut shells, shredded newspaper, cardboard, paper, yard trimmings, grass clippings, houseplants, hay and straw, leaves, sawdust, wood chips, cotton and wool rags, dryer and vacuum cleaner lint, hair and fur, and fireplace ashes.

What can’t you compost?

There are also things you should steer clear of when composting. They include black walnut tree leaves or twigs, coal or charcoal ash, dairy products, diseased or insect-ridden plants, fats and grease, meat or fish bones, pet wastes, or yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides. “All of these might contain substances that could be harmful to plants or attract unwanted pests, therefore it is wise to stay away from these for your compost,” Browne explains.

Compost bin outside filled of food scraps
Evan Lorne/Shutterstock

Composting resources

If you need help composting, Browne points out that there are many resources to help — including centers that can assist with your compost needs. “All municipalities have recycling centers, most of them serviced by the city’s sanitation department. However, there are cities like Santa Barbara, my hometown, where sanitation is a run by a private company, MarBorg, that does an amazing job,” she explains.

Each municipality has its own way of sorting trash with its own limitations. However, there are only five cites in the U.S .that pick up composting from your curb. This includes San Francisco, Boulder, Colo., Denver, Seattle, and Portland.

Here are some major U.S. cities with local composting sources:

  • Sacramento, Calif.: Green Restaurants Alliance
  • Washington, D.C., and surrounds: Veteran Compost
  • Austin, Texas: Compost Pedallers
  • Boston: Bootstrap Compost
  • Falmouth, Mass.: Compost With Me
  • Chicago: Healthy Soil
  • Milwaukee: Compost Crusader
  • Los Angeles: LA Compost
  • Philadelphia: Bennett Compost
  • Portland, Maine: Garbage to Garden

Editors' Recommendations

Leah Groth
Former Digital Trends Contributor
This unique wall design will make you rethink wallpaper
Wallpaper frames? An interesting concept to consider for your home
Geometric wallpaper with a console table

Wallpaper is becoming trendier in today’s home design, but some people aren’t ready to take the leap and wallpaper an entire room. This DIY project shows how you can add more visual appeal to a room using wallpaper ideas like creating individual "frames."
How to create this framed wallpaper look
@olivebranchcottage on Instagram shared a neat DIY wallpaper idea that she calls "wallpaper rectangles." This fun twist on adding traditional wallpaper to a room helps add visual appeal without being overwhelming. Here’s how she did it.

Pick your wallpaper
First, @olivebranchcottage suggests picking your wallpaper. In the nursery she designed, she opted for a black-and-white pattern depicting nature scenes.
Choose your trim
To create the "rectangles" on the wall, you’ll want to choose some wood trim. The creator chose some from The Home Depot.
Paint the trim the same color as the wall
Next, you’ll want to paint the trim the same color as the wall tone. This creates a greater sense of flow once you add the wallpaper.
Use painter’s tape to outline your design
@olivebranchcottage used painter’s tape to outline the design. This makes it easy to move pieces as needed and readjust until you find what is right for you. Also, she notes that the size and spacing of your rectangles are entirely up to personal preference. For the nursery, @olivebranchcottage placed the tape 5 inches from the ceiling and 5 inches from the baseboards.
Add your wallpaper
The creator suggests using a laser level to keep things even and straight as you place your wallpaper.
Cut your trim pieces
To cut your trim pieces, measure them to the same length as the painter’s tape you used for outlining. The Instagram creator says a 45-degree angle is best.
Use a nail gun to attach your trim pieces to the wall
Using a nail gun, attach your trim pieces to the wall. You should do this after you’ve laid your wallpaper. It’s OK if the wallpaper goes beyond the painter’s tape outline you created.
Cut the excess wallpaper
Once you attach your trim pieces to the wall, you can use an X-Acto knife to cut off the excess wallpaper. After you cut all the edges, you’ll have a stunning wallpaper design.
How to style framed wallpaper in a room
Styling the framed wallpaper is up to personal preference.

Read more
The best window treatment ideas for every budget and space
Make your windows pop with your individual style
Curtains in large living room

Window treatments play a crucial role in enhancing the aesthetics and functionality of any space. Whether you're looking to add privacy, control light, or simply elevate the ambiance of a room, the right window treatments can make all the difference.

From wallet-friendly options to luxurious designs, there's a myriad of choices available to suit every taste and budget. Let's explore some of the best window treatment ideas that cater to various preferences, spaces, and budgets.

Read more
Cringe-worthy decorations that definitely ruin good home design
Experts say these are some of the most common design mistakes that ruin your home's interiors
Woman placing a pillow on bed for cohesive design

If you’re aiming for a stellar home design, then there are a few things many experts urge you to watch out for. Good home design is all about intentionality and ensuring that your design appears balanced through the use of color, texture, and form. So, to help alleviate any worries and to save you from a cringe-worthy design, we’re offering a few tips on how you can decorate your home to achieve a stunning look.
Uninspired, boring artwork

One of the most common aspects of bad interior design is adorning your walls with uninspired, boring artwork. Artwork is a great way to express your personal style while also adding color and character to your room decor. For homeowners in need of decorating a blank wall or who crave more visual interest, artwork can be a fantastic solution. However, it’s easy to pick out any old piece to style your space quickly. But doing so can sometimes leave your design feeling cheap or poorly planned.

Read more