Saved 2,000 pounds of food waste from landfills with this simple composter

Love the idea of ​​composting, but don’t like the idea of ​​keeping a pile of rotten groceries? are you not interested?

For lazy environmentalists like myself who want to reduce household waste without allocating more chores to themselves, there is a simple option. That’s the Redmon Green Culture 65 Gallon Compost Bin.

This home composting device requires very little human effort. Just place it on unpaved ground and give it scrap. Without requiring me to do any other labor, the contents of the trash can actually decrease in volume over time as hundreds of pounds of food waste are transformed into a very dense dirt-like substance. . My Redmon compost bin has never reached full capacity despite years of use, and I’ve never even emptied it except once or twice out of curiosity.

You could say I treat this ship less like a composting machine and more like a personal trash incinerator powered by Mother Nature.

Why You Should Compost (Even If You Don’t Want It)

For many gardeners, the reason to compost is to get compost. Properly cultivated compost provides a rich balance of moisture and nutrients and can be mixed into soil or used as mulch to promote healthy and productive growth of all types of plants and crops.

However, producing a high-quality compost that has the ideal carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, kills potentially harmful pathogens, and is hot enough in the decomposition stage to fully decompose food residues is a complex process. takes.

You will usually need to rotate the compost pile, layer the material in a certain proportion, and occasionally water the compost pile to keep it from getting too dry. All of these are known as active composting or hot composting, but there is another method, passive composting or cold composting. It simply throws a random amount of organic material into a mound or container and lets it work slowly on the element. Compost from passive composting takes longer to break down and isn’t as beneficial in your garden, but that’s fine if your main goal is to reduce what goes into your food waste.

“Not everyone is in a position to be proactive about composting. he told me in a recent phone interview. “Some people are lazy, some are too busy, some would rather die than watch organic waste decompose. The reason is.”

What can and cannot be composted at home

Inside Redmon's compost bin.
A bird’s-eye view of Redmon’s compost bin in action (with scrap in it). Photo: Rose Maura Lorre

The user guide that came with my Redmon trash can says “Fruit and vegetable skins, skins, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells,” plus garden waste such as grass clippings, fallen leaves, and straw. It is also stated that it can be composted. (I actually include all parts of the fruit or vegetable, not just the skin or peel. I also include paper products such as coffee filters, brown paper bags, toilet paper cores, and paper napkins.)

This guide’s no-composting list includes dairy, meat, bones, and “fatty food waste,” all of which can attract pests and take longer to fully decompose. A high temperature composting system is required. (More active home composting equipment, such as the Mantis Compact ComposTumbler, which we recommend in our favorite compost bin round-up, can process things like crab shells, fish bones, and small amounts of dairy, but not meat. ) as well as pet excrement. Even if it’s in a so-called compostable poop bag, it’s not allowed because it can carry diseases into the trash.

The same basic principles are described in the instructions (PDF) for the Algreen Soil Saver Composter, a very similar black box container previously recommended by supervisor Ben Keough. “[My wife and I] We never fed any animals,” says Ben, who owned the Algreen Soil Saver Composter before moving to the new location. “Only vegetables, fruits and bread. And only home-brewed yeast and grains.”

Algreen Soil Saver Composter

This is a similar black box bin that we use for passive composting.

Purchasing options

*Price at the time of posting $140.

Brewer (who previously spoke with Wirecutter for our composting 101 guide) says avoiding cooked, greasy foods can keep your outdoor compost bins free, even if they’re on the ground like I am. I mentioned that I can keep pests out. “We put low-yield products there,” she explained. “If rats or other animals are interested in something like raw vegetables, they don’t have to come to the compost pile for it.

Benefits of passive composting

The Algreen Soil Saver Composter User Guide estimates that one-third of all household waste (including yard waste) ends up in a household composter. It may not seem like much, but by conservative calculations, I’ve dumped roughly 1,900 pounds of organic matter into the trash over the past six years or so. My used coffee grounds alone is about 5-6 ounces per day, or nearly 40% of that.

My family has never had an unpleasant experience from rodents or offensive odors, despite the fact that I have not done anything to help the food waste decompose (although the latest kitchen waste thrown in When I open the trash can lid to do so, I see flies active in it).

Even better, I turned the compost over with a shovel or pitchfork, hosed it down, added bugs, and other messy chores a serious composter might undertake. there is not. All I have done is dump the food waste in the bin and walk away, just like when I bring the trash from the indoor bin to the outdoor bin.

A close-up view of the opening in the bottom of the compost bin.
A door in the bottom of the trash can gives some access to the finished compost, but I never touch the contents. Photo: Rose Maura Lorre

The black plastic sides of the Redmon trash can absorb and retain heat, and the trash can itself does all the work needed to decompose organic matter, with vents for ventilation. The process is so efficient that my trash can is never more than two-thirds his size. (My husband dug a hole about a foot deep and put the trash can on top of it when setting up the trash can, giving us a head start on the pile.)

You can access the compost through a small hatch door on the bottom. Despite my stubborn anti-compost stance, my Redmon compost bin still produces something akin to usable compost, albeit with plenty of intact eggshells and plant debris mixed in. generated.

In fact, Brewer said my rushed concoction was still worth it. “If I were you, I’d put recognizable items back for another composting cycle,” she said. “The rest could be applied as a thin layer as a soil conditioner.”

Despite his bad intentions, he ended up making compost.

This article was edited by Alex Aciman and Catherine Kast.

source of information

1. Linda Brewer, Senior Faculty Research Assistant, Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University, Telephone Interview, April 20, 2023

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