Composting at home is a great way to reduce our waste and create a useful product that can be used to nourish the soil in our gardens or yards. Since a large portion of our waste is organic and is compostable, it makes sense to make use of this great source of nutrients instead of throwing it away . If more people were to compost their organic waste at home, we would dramatically reduce the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of in a landfill or incinerator.
Although composting can easily be done in piles, many people prefer to keep their compost in a compost bin to keep things much more organized and neat, which may be a concern for many homeowners and communities.
Compost bins of many different shapes and sizes are available on the market for purchase, but purchasing one of those bins in order to compost your waste at home is not necessary. If you are resourceful, and perhaps a little creative, you can make a compost bin out of materials that you may already have at home, or you can easily source them for little to no money from places like Craigslist or FreeCycle.org.
The following are some of the easiest compost bins that you can make at home:
- Wire Mesh Compost Bin
Simply roll some wire mesh into a cylinder, add some wooden stakes for support, and tie everything together with string or wire.
- Wooden Pallet Planks + Wire Mesh Bin
a. Find two wooden pallets. One is used to support the bottom, and the other is taken apart into separate slats.
b. Nail the slats together to create a four-sided square frame.
c. Cover the outside of the frame with wire mesh to create four supportive walls and fasten them to the wooden square frame at the top of the bin.
d. One or more additional pieces of wire mesh can be rolled into a cylinder to create “chimneys” than can help to aerate the compost pile.
- Pallet Compost Bin
a. Connect four wooden pallets together to make the sides and use a fifth pallet to form the base of the bin.
b. To allow for easy access to the finished compost at the bottom of the bin, the front panel pallet can be cut to ⅓-½ the original size at the bottom.
c. Latches can be attached to allow for the creation of a swing door.
- Plastic Crate Composter
Plastic crates that have been used for bread or milk at the supermarket can be used as compost bins that allow excellent airflow. Create a larger bin structure by putting several crates together and fastening them using materials such as wire or twine. You can use cloth, mesh or landscape fabric to help keep the compost inside the bin.
- Garbage Bin Composter
Dark colored garbage bins work the best to help capture heat from the sunlight, and metal cans can be used to keep out animals that might go after your compost bin contents. To allow for proper air flow, drill holes on every side and in the lid. If you get a locking lid on a cylinder can, you can roll your “bin” around to tumble and mix the composting contents. Bungee cords can be used to secure non-locking lids. Placing the can on top of some blocks can allow for airflow beneath your bin.
Food-grade barrels with screw-top lids also work great for making bins using this method.
- Storage Bin Composter
This compost bin can be easily made from an inexpensive plastic storage bin. You can even use a slightly damaged bin that has a small crack or a hole in it as long as it will hold compost sufficiently.
To make this bin, you only need to drill many holes in all sides of the plastic storage bin, including the bottom for drainage purposes, as well as the lid for air circulation.
This is a compost bin that can be transported quite easily around your yard and will easily fit within limited spaces.
How to use your homemade compost bin
Successful bin composting does not require a lot of technical or ecological knowledge, only a few basic tips.
There are typically two types of compost bins: stationary and rotating. In both cases, you should periodically turn your compost to aerate it and mix the decomposing materials. By turning the rotating bins or rotating your cylinder homemade bin with a fastened lid, you can help to speed up the composting process[sc:2].
Ideal compost piles contain a mixture of both “brown” materials (carbon-rich materials such as dry leaves, newspaper and cardboard) and “green” materials (nitrogen-rich materials such as grass clippings and fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen). These two types of materials should be mixed together and turned about once per week to help facilitate the decomposition process[sc:2].
Adding a little bit of water to your pile and mixing the compost helps to speed up the decomposition process, but you only need to add enough water to moisten the contents[sc:3]. Do not drench the pile!
Once you have filled up your compost bin over one season, you can start adding organic materials to a second bin to allow the first one to completely decompose before using the compost.
For more tips on how to compost your organic waste, be sure to read our post on How to Make Compost from Kitchen Waste.