By Mary Mazzoni on May 2, 2012

How to Choose the Right Composting System for You


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Photo: Flickr/anathea

The EPA estimates that 27 percent of the American waste stream is organic material that can be composted. We all want to help cut that number down to size, but to a beginner, composting can seem downright intimidating. Potential composters are faced with a myriad of challenges, from limited space to lack of free time.

If such concerns have derailed your composting plans in the past, we have some news that may surprise you. With a little research, you can find a composting system to suit virtually any conditions (that’s right, even urban dwellings with concrete “backyards”). Just check out our quick and easy guide, and we’ll help you choose the composting system that’s right for you.

Why compost in the first place?

If recycling hasn’t kept your household trash cans as empty as you expected, food waste is likely to blame. The EPA estimates that each American throws away an average of 1.3 pounds of food scraps daily. Composting allows you to recapture these resources and reuse them as fertilizer in your own garden or another garden in your community – keeping loads of useful materials out of the landfill.

Composting is also one of the most personally satisfying ways to recycle. Think of it this way: Unlike sending that plastic bottle to the recycling plant, you get to watch this natural recycling process every step of the way – deepening your connection with Mother Nature.

Our Composting Guide:


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      • http://twitter.com/SBinF Lawrence

        I’ve been vermicomposting for a few years now. It’s so much fun. I look forward to throwing all kinds of waste in there for them to break down. The base is dried leaves and paper. I also add coffee grounds, any old produce (they love fruit), citrus peels in moderation, hair, dead leaves off my house plants, pulverized egg shells. They will handle it all. The compost yielded from the system is first rate.

        I’m a little wary of the half pound a day processing weight. I find that my worms consume far less than that. In vermicomposting, less is more. It’s better to put too little “green” stuff as it’s called than too much. If your system is in balance, it will have a nice earthy scent at all times, never of rotten food. I use an upward migration system. Currently I’m running 5 trays. I tend to put food in all of the trays. Gets a little heavy, so if you have limited movement, perhaps not the best plan.