Photo of compost bin full of plant and food waste, specifically fruit and vegetable scraps such as bell pepper innards and banana peels

When you hear the word “compost”, you might think of stinky food scraps or slimy worms… or maybe you think of fresh, healthy soil! Compost is a mixture of organic material which has decayed to become rich in minerals and nutrients. This mixture is then used to fertilize the soil and can help grow hearty and healthy plants or food.

As mentioned above, compost is made up of organic material, but what really is this organic material? Compost can be made from: apple cores, orange rinds, banana peels, grass, leaves, paper bags, and more. When this combination of organic material is mixed with appropriate amounts of air, water, and decomposers like earthworms and fungi, compost happens!

You can start small-scale composting in your own kitchen and backyard. Most people collect their food scraps in a small container like a milk jug or coffee tin. For at-home composting you can include plant scraps, coffee grounds, and egg shells, but you don’t want to add meat or bones because they will attract pests. Once you’ve filled your small kitchen compost bin, you can add the contents to a large composting bin outside. You want to make sure this bin can get some oxygen and water from the environment, and you might need to add earthworms to ensure that decomposition occurs. After anywhere between a few months and a year have passed, you’ll find that your organic material has transformed into nutrient-rich dirt.

If you want to cut down on your waste and build a nutritious foundation for a garden, try composting! It might not look or smell pretty, but it’s healthy for both the planet and your backyard.

Photo of a starter compost bin in a large plastic storage tote. Compost includes egg shells, onion peels, cilantro, banana peels, and more.
Photo of worms that are thriving due to coffee grind compost
Did You Know?
  • Archeological evidence suggests that humans were composting 12,000 years ago!
  • It is reported that in 50 C.E. Cleopatra was so amazed by worms’ composting ability that she declared it illegal to remove worms from Egypt.
  • Composting food scraps can greatly reduce your trash waste. If you recycle but don't compost – food scraps probably make up about 25% of your trash.