The where, what, when, and why, of Composting

Importance of composting

Composting is an extremely important way you can help curb GHG emissions, feed your garden, keep unnecessary waste out of landfills, and create fertile soil to grow new food or anything your heart desires. Composting can also be a great hobby for you and your children, and it’s great for the environment, so why not try it!

The different kinds of composts and how to start one

There are quite a few different kinds of composters, and choosing the right one depends on personal preference, but also what will be most practical for you. Tumbling composters are a great way to keep your compost stirred up, and composting, although there are a few downsides to having a compost that does not touch the ground. Other composts that do touch the ground can be a black bin, that you can buy from most stores, or even a D.I.Y composter, that you make yourself out of pallets, or scrap wood, an empty bin or barrel, or whatever you can come up with! You can also just create a heap somewhere out of the way in your yard. Some questions to consider when choosing which one is best for you would be…what kind of wildlife lives in my area? How much waste will I be producing? Do I need multiple composts for different kinds of material? How much money do I want to spend to set up my compost? If you live somewhere where there is not enough space to start a compost, consider buying a countertop composter, or talk to your municipality about a green bin program.

What can and can’t go in your compost

A very important part of composting is knowing what can and can’t go in your compost. Putting materials in your compost that you shouldn’t can cause issues like attracting pesky wildlife, being too wet or dry to compost properly, materials that remain there forever, thus eventually ending up in your soil or garden, strong odours, and unhealthy soil. most, if not all leftover food can go in your compost, it is best practice to avoid large amounts of bread, meat, and dairy, as they are wildlife attractants but they will still decompose in your compost. Some other materials that can go in your compost are scrap from your gardens, lawn clippings, coffee grounds, tea leaves, chicken manure, and even carbon materials like newspapers, cardboard, eggshells, sawdust, and more! If you are unsure if you should put something in your compost, it’s best to do a little bit of research to ensure your compost stays healthy. There are a few things you should avoid putting in your compost all together like bones, metal, plastic, fatty foods, chemically treated wood, personal care products, diseased plants or plants that have gone to seed, and animal waste like cat litter.

How to avoid wildlife interactions

One of the biggest issues with composting is that a compost is a hungry animal’s favourite place to find. By avoiding some strongly scented foods in your compost, and strategically placing your compost somewhere in your yard where you can see it from inside your house, you can avoid the majority of whatever wildlife will be enjoying your compost, and the wildlife may avoid your compost all together.

Benefits of composting

There are many benefits to composting. Composting will save you money, reduce your carbon footprint, composted materials can act as fertilizer and replenish the nutrients in your garden soil, and it keeps food waste out of landfills. The reason it is so important to keep food waste out of landfills is because of the different way the food would decompose compared to composting. When food decomposes in a landfill, it lacks access to oxygen. When it can’t decompose properly, it produces methane, which is a planet warming gas that is much more potent that carbon dioxide, another planet warming gas. Another reason it is so important to keep food out of landfills, is that landfills have a maximum capacity, so by composting you extend the life of the landfill, and prevent the need for another one. Composting will also save you money, since you will not need to buy fertilizer for your gardens, and your food scraps and other compostable materials have already been paid for, so why not get the best bang for your buck by making your own fertilizer.


  • It is important to stir your compost to aerate the decomposing materials.
  • Have a good balance between greens and browns (papers and organics)
  • Don’t stir your compost in the winter as this will release the heat inside that is allowing the decomposition to continue.
  • To get rid of the bad smell while the compost is still in your house, consider putting it in the fridge or freezer. This will also help keep fruit flies away.
  • Keep your compost close outside so it’s not too big of a chore to go dump out your compost. If it is more than 200 metres away it is far less likely you will make the journey to dump it.

Composting has many benefits and it is great for the environment. It is also a great way to get children started on gardening and climate action. There are almost no downsides to composting and it’s super easy to start. Give it a shot, it’s worth it!

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