What is a Compost Bin & What You Can Put In Them?

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Here we will explain everything you need to know about compost bins, most importantly what you can and can not put in them, the process of composting, and finally the 4 major kinds of compost bins and the difference between them.

What is a compost bin? 

A compost bin is a structure used to recycle, house, and create compost until it can be used in your garden. The compost bins are specifically designed to hasten the decomposition of organic matter we throw away and speed up the process of decay.

While some people choose to create their compost bin from different materials such as stone, cinder blocks, plastic, and lumber.

Others prefer to buy them as there are many different types of compost bins on the market, appropriate for different types of organic matters and household areas…

What Goes In A Compost Bin?

Generally speaking, you can compost anything made from organic material; however, not all organic material is safe for most home compost bins.

As some may cause more harm or attract rats, cats, and other animals or spread infections and diseases.


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Here are lists of items that should and shouldn’t go into your compost bin:


What you can put into a compost bin:


  • Vegetable food scraps – anything from coffee grounds, to lettuce, cabbage, potato, tomato peels, and any other peels from vegetables;
  • Fruit food scraps – anything from a banana to apple peels, to any other fruit food scraps;
  • Spoiled soy/rice/almond/coconut milk;
  • Cooked pasta, rice, crumbs from the bottom of snack food packing;
  • Unpopped burnt popcorn kernels;
  • Nutshells except for walnut shells which can be deadly to plants;
  • Used paper napkins, paper towels, paper plates, or unwaxed cardboard pizza boxes, all ripped and cut into small pieces;
  • Eggshells crashed;
  • Old herbs and spices;
  • Printer paper and black and white newspaper, as well as envelopes, pencil shavings, sticky notes – again, all shredded;
  • Grass clippings;
  • Three leaves;
  • Loose leaf tea and tea bags are made of natural materials such as hemp and cotton; if you are not sure about the tea bags, dispose solely of the tea leaves.
  • Horse, cow, chicken, and rabbit droppings can go to your compost pile, adding nutrients and organic matters to it; however, dog and cat poop and other carnivores’ droppings shouldn’t be compost.

What doesn’t go in a compost bin:


  • Dog, cat, and other carnivores’ droppings shouldn’t be composted in the regular compost bin as their waste can contain microorganisms and parasites that shouldn’t be part of your compost. These can spread diseases and infections, causing more harm than good to the environment and your plants.
  • Citrus peels and onions – yes, we said vegetables and fruits should be composted, and they definitely should except for citrus peels and onions as their natural chemicals and acidity can kill worms and other microorganisms which are part of the decomposition process, making it slower. Moreover, orange peels take forever to decompose.
  • Fish and meat scraps – although technically speaking they will decompose, adding scraps from fish and meat can turn out to be quite damaging as the smell of decomposed fish and meat scraps can attract all sorts of animals from rats to foxes, raccoons even cats that will come and ransack your compost in search for food.
  • Color newspaper and glossy coated paper – basically paper with plastic-like coatings that makes it bright, colorful, and shiny as this type of paper contains toxins and won’t decompose properly.
  • Sawdust from treated wood – while you can use sawdust from pure wood which is untreated and natural and will really good ingredient to add in moderation to your compost, the sawdust from treated wood which had undergone any kind of pressure treatment, varnish, stain, or paint should not be part of your compost pile as the toxic compounds of the treated wood won’t dispose of due to the chemicals put in it to prevent decay.
  • Large branches – it takes a lot of time for them to break down, which will delay the process of decomposing.
  • Synthetic fertilizers and diseased yard waste – any synthetic fertilizer contains chemicals that could not only delay the decompose process but also make it toxic for the plants. The same goes with diseased yard waste, if your plants already died and were infected by some virus or disease, you shouldn’t add them to your compost pile as the virus from them could spread to other plants.

The Process of Composting


Since composting does a lot of good for the environment as it can break down the usual everyday organic waste into inexpensive fertilizers, which can enrich the soil for our future plants, many people started practicing it regularly.

As a result, this made compost bins more actual, and since their popularity rises, different manufacturers started creating different types of composting bins.

Nevertheless, there are three basic types of composting, and all compost bins use one of these three kinds.


The Aerobic Composting


As the name suggests, the aerobic composing air is used in the process to speed up the decomposing process.

In this process, you need to turn the compost every few days.

And in this composting pile, you also need to add plenty of green matter rich in nitrogen (like grass clippings); as the bacteria will eat the nitrogen, the temperature will get higher speeding up the process.

You will also need to keep it most, turn it frequently and leave enough air space to not only speed up the process of decomposing, but also to avoid bad odor.


The Anaerobic Composting


The almost complete opposite to the first one, the anaerobic composing won’t be needy and require your attention or resources at all; you will need to add the compost pile and leave mother nature to do its thing in the next year or two.

Nevertheless, don’t think for a second that this is a simple way out, although this process doesn’t require your attention, it sure can stink a lot.

Moreover, as there is no oxygen, plenty of nasty bacteria will take over and produce a ton of methane, which is not suitable for the environment; you need to be careful with this one!


The Vermicomposting


Probably the best combination as it does not give heavy odor is less dangerous if any with anaerobic bacteria and methane doesn’t require a frequent turn and can be used indoors and outdoors.

The vermicomposting uses worms, moisture, and oxygen to quickly and safely break down the organic materials.

In this type, worms, especially red ones, as well as the bacteria do the composting and eat the food scraps that aren’t acidic oily, meat, or dairy.

These are practical, take a few minutes a week, and can become part of the household as kids love taking care of worms, and if you love fishing, you will get an endless supply of bait. A win-win situation for sure!

What are the different types of compost bins?


If you are interested in a compost tumbler we go into more detail here… Best Black Tumbling Compost Bin With Two Chambers For Your Garden


  • Compost tumbler


These are the more significant variations as they consist of a large container on legs with a door in the side where you can put your compost.

They have an attached handle that spins the entire container making it easier to turn your compost.

The majority of compost tumblers are stationary, although few models may include wheels enabling you to easily move them around.

When you are making a decision and choosing your model, make sure that you take into consideration that the larger the compost tumbler, the more it will contain, but also as it includes more, it will be harder to turn the handle and spin the compost.

You won’t have to worry about them lasting as they are well-made, durable and you will use them for years.


  • Compost bin


Larger than the compost tumbler, the compost bins are also typically stationary, and you need to place all the scraps inside.

One disadvantage is that they don’t have a handle you can spin to turn and toss the compost inside, so you will need to use a shovel, pitchfork, or something similar to do the turning; this also leads to the compost taking more time to break.

Although these are cheaper, when you are buying this type, make sure you buy one from excellent quality material.

Frequently, this type of bin is made out of plastic, which in cold weather can become brittle and crack.

Additionally, these need to be away from direct sunlight.


  • Worm composting bin


Easy to maintain, and handle, these worm composting bins can easily fit in the garden o basement.

You will need a few more minutes and extra effort, in the beginning, to adjust to them, but once you get used to it, you won’t have any issues.

When looking for one, make sure you buy one that has plenty of drainages so that you won’t drown your warms.

Choose darker, black composters to stimulate the natural dark environment that the worms are used to, as well as plenty of ventilation for them to breathe.


  • Indoor-kitchen composting bin


While compost bins and tumblers are typically outdoor compost bins, it doesn’t mean that if you have no choices left if you don’t have an outdoor area, you can always reduce your food waste by using an indoor-kitchen compost waste.

These are typically smaller and fit under your countertop or sink, or in a pull-out drawer. If you don’t have a garden, you can use the fertilizer for your household plants, or you can always bring it to or offer it in the community gardens or farmer’s markets, or the city’s waste collection.

In summary, compost bins are a great way to recycle your food scraps for use in the garden or flower bed. Composting is the process of breaking down old vegetation back into the soil, and there are many different sorts of composting bins that will suit your requirements.

You may also be interested in… Best Tumbling Composter With Two Chambers