Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why a compost bin isn’t a great gift

(A guest post from Michelle's coworker, Megan)
Yes, I ♥ Compost. And since you are reading this blog, I’m going to assume that most of you do too. During this holiday season of giving, we’d all like to share our love of composting with our friends and family. But today I’m going to share why a compost bin really isn’t a great gift.

Now, before I get ahead of myself I need to admit that, yes, I have given a compost bin as a gift. It was to my little brother for his graduation from medical school. What do you possibly give to a very particular newly minted doctor? Well, I knew he was moving into a house and he’s also very eco-conscious. He had also taken an interest in the composting going on at my house. So I was certain the compost bin would get some good use.  

But let’s consider this a special circumstance. There’s an exception to every rule, right?

A few years ago when the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District was still holding the annual compost bin sale, a friend of mine purchased 10 compost bins with the thought of giving them as gifts. Despite her best intentions, most of those compost bins are still hanging around her house waiting to be filled with food scraps, leaves and coffee grounds.

Here are five reasons why a compost bin isn’t a great gift:
  • It’s too preachy: Sharing information and tips to help folks be more environmentally-savvy may be well-natured, but it may come across as eco-bullying. 
  • It could be wasteful: Just think of that sad compost bin, sitting there empty.
  • It might not be the bin of their dreams: Even if the receiver wants to start composting, they may have space limitations or would like to use a certain type of compost bin. Unless you know their plans ahead of time, you may end of giving a compost bin that they don’t want to use.
  • It could seem more like punishment than a gift: Ever given someone a vacuum or exercise equipment? Yikes. Just because we all love composting, doesn’t mean everyone does. Giving a compost bin as a gift might make the receiver feel inadequate or judged. This goes back to our eco-bullying point.
  • All the same reasons you shouldn’t give someone a pet as a gift. Cute, but you get the idea.

If you’d like to encourage your friends and family to start composting, consider giving a gift certificate to a store where they can pick out their own compost bin. That way they can get the compost bin that suites their style, or something else if they just haven’t caught the composting bug.

Happy holidays from all of us composters at Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District!


  1. No to mention, a compost bin is VERY hard to wrap!

  2. Never thought about the fact it might feel like pressure if you give it as a gift!

  3. We would like to see Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District still hold the annual compost bin sale. By selling at cost at trailer load prices they were able to sell compost bins for $35.00 and rain barrels for $50.00. This cost effective sale benefits all of us by reducing solid waste that would go into landfills and reducing excess storm water that would overflow our sewer system. It is too bad this sale was stopped to satisfy a few businesses that sell the same or similar products at substantially higher prices. By doing that these products were priced out of reach for many Hamiliton County residents, even with the discount coupons offered by the county. This was a case where a government agency was doing it better than the private sector at no cost to the taxpayer and actually saving us money. We would like to thank the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District for all they are allowed to do to make our lives better. Happy Holidays!

    1. I did love seeing hundreds of new composters in one day!

    2. My wife and I were two of the new composters you saw that day, and we have been composting ever since. Composting inspired us to start using our cities recycling bins, and today we only generate about a plastic grocery bag of landfill bound trash a week. Thank You Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District! Jesse & Anne

    3. Amen! I can't believe how expensive compost bins are - it takes my breath away! If I hadn't bought one in the last year of the HCRSWD sale I wouldn't have one - and would NEVER have started composting.

  4. I agree! I put a lot of effort into my composting, recycling, etc., but I know most people think it's a pain in the ass!