What is compost? Compost is decomposed organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. It includes food scraps, yard waste, and even shredded paper, cardboard and matches.
Why is it important to compost? Food scraps and yard waste make up ~30% of what we throw away and nearly half of the food in the US is thrown away.
When organic material is sent to the landfill, it decomposes anaerobically (without oxygen) because it’s buried deep below other garbage. This keeps it from decomposing at a natural rate.
Without the help of oxygen and pests, it releases an abundance of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.
Landfills are the third largest source of human-related methane emissions in the US — a lot of that coming from food waste. Methane is 28-30% more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
If you’re like me and don’t have a yard or garden where you can keep your compost, you can collect food scraps in your kitchen and do a few things with them:
Donate to a community garden in your area (a quick google search usually does the trick)
Check to see if your city offers curbside compost pick-up. Some have their own compost bins and some placed allow food scraps in the green yard waste bin (like LA).
Check your local farmers market once it’s safe. Many include community compost drop-off.
There’s also a really neat machine called the Foodcycler that I stumbled upon doing research that turns food scraps into soil inside the house. I’d love to try one of these out!
What can you put in your home compost?
Coffee filters (unbleached)
Egg shells (shell only)
Sawdust (from untreated wood)
Twigs (break into 2-3” pieces)
Unbleached cardboard (torn into small pieces)
What NOT to put in home compost:
No pet poops
No cat litter
No compostable plastic
No infested plants
Here’s a roundup of some countertop compost bins if you’re in the market! Ours is on the top left and it’s made from bamboo.
- Bamboo Countertop Compost Bin (food52, bamboozle, amazon)
- Wood Countertop Compost Bin (etsy)
- Modern Compact Compost Bin (food52, amazon)
- Walnut Countertop Compost Bin (food52, amazon)
- Stainless Steel Compost Bin (william sonoma, amazon)
- Oxo Compost Bin (sur la table, amazon)
- Hammered Copper Compost Bin (gardener’s supply company)
- Ceramic Compost Pail (pottery barn)
- Foodcycler (no food waste)
Do you own a compost bin? I’d love to know what you have and how much you love it!
To continue learning how to boost your sustainable lifestyle, make sure you visit www.claggie.com and @claggie. You can also view her sustainability masterlist here!
Kristine Claghorn is a creative producer and compassion cultivation student through Stanford University’s ACT program. She spends a lot of her time researching how to live more sustainably and enjoys sharing her findings. Known by her friends as “Claggie,” she also enjoys finding the perfect vintage pieces, painting with watercolors, making high-quality dark chocolate with organic beans from around the world, and experimenting with zero waste DIYs. Her path started as a vintage buyer for a Midwest boutique, and has since taken her into content creation, styling, producing and art directing. Now as a creative freelancer, she works with brands that align more with her values of sustainability — one example being the Good Future Design Alliance, a group that has dedicated themselves to cutting their waste in half by 2025.