Thursday, October 10, 2013

Composting on the Cheap

Hi, I’m Megan – your guest blogger for today. I work with Michelle (your composting guru) and I also love composting. I love how easy it is. But even more, I love a good bargain. And what could be a better deal than composting? If you do it right, all the set-up materials can be free and you end up with a (free) rich, valuable product for the garden or houseplants.

Let’s start with the bin
Sure, commercially-made compost bins are attractive and have cool features like turning handles and lids. But if you look around your garage and basement, I bet you’d find plenty of discarded material that could make a suitable compost bin.
Mine was made with leftover chicken fence, some metal posts and wire. I’m proud to say it cost zero dollars and took less than 10 minutes to assemble (thanks to my very handy hubby). Look around for extra fencing, old pallets, blocks, bricks or scrap treated lumber.

My DIY compost bin does not have a lid, so I have to be extra careful to bury food scraps.

Now, let’s move to the kitchen
Sure, kitchen collectors come in a variety of colors and even sophisticated chrome versions. But I can’t justify spending any amount of money on something to collect my unwanted (and sometimes yucky) food scraps. Here’s my lovely kitchen collector that works great and might otherwise have ended up in a landfill.

It meets all of Michelle’s criteria for a good kitchen collector: tight fitting lid, material that won’t leak, and space to collect food for 3 or 4 days. Since I’m reusing a container, I have no qualms about taking a black marker to the lid and writing COMPOST, with the hopes that others in my household will start putting food scraps there instead of the trash. Other free container ideas include those that you already purchased with bulk margarine, kitty litter or coffee. These containers aren’t currently recyclable in your curbside bin/cart, so it’s a great way to reuse them so they don’t end up in a landfill.

Saving money by preventing food waste
Oh I could go on and on about this one! Actually, I’ll do a follow-up post dedicated to how composting helps combat food waste. Stay tuned.

Composting lets me reuse water
Nope, I don’t have a rain barrel attached to the side of my house (kudos to the folks who do!). I’m talking about looking for ways to save water for use in your compost during dry spells. I reuse water from the dehumidifier and water for rinsing fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go down the drain. I’ve already paid for the water – why not get twice as much use out of it? Just be sure not to include water that has soap in it. Another plus is the free exercise you get hauling that water out to your compost bin!

So anyone who hasn’t fully committed to composting because of the expensive gear has no excuse. I say embrace your inner cheapskate and have fun composting!


  1. Megan, you have some type of cover around your chicken wire. What is it?

  2. Hi Cecilia -
    It is actually a smaller gauge chicken wire.
    - Megan