Goody Green: Composting 101

Dave's compost_1 This month's green resolution was inspired by my brother-in-law's new compost pile. Composting is something I've been wanting to do for a while, but to be honest I've just been too darn intimidated to give it a go. But after taking the grand tour of Dave's compost pile – and being reminded how truly easy it is to do – I was once again motivated to give it a go.

Why compost? For starters, sending waste outside to decompose naturally, rather then bagging it and putting it curbside, is way better for our environment. Plus, as anyone with a green thumb will tell you, the organic material that's results works wonders for your yard and garden.

How does it work? Alternate layers of "green" materials, like grass clippings, vegetable peels, and fruit remnants (which are high in nitrogen) and "brown" materials, like dry leaves, paper, eggshells, and coffee grounds (which are high in carbon), then turn the pile once a week. You're basically speeding up nature's decomposition process to create a dark, rich soil that you can use outside. Click here for the EPA's list of organic materials that can be composted.

Because he has a pretty big yard, Dave was able to mark off a semi-open area with cinder blocks to compost in (a bonus since it allows him to access the pile directly with his wheel barrel), but there are lots of enclosed container options out there for those of us who have smaller yards, no yards, or no time to go building our own. Check out these tumbling models or if you're the DIY type click here for step-by-step instructions on how to make a compact compost bin out of a standard garbage can. If you're an urban dweller or need to compost inside, check out this countertop composting kit. And don't forget about convenient countertop composting caddies that you can fill with scraps and bring out to your compost pile when full.

If you have tips on how to compost or success stories, please share in the comments!

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