People are figuring out all sorts of ways to configure their kitchens to make composting easy. Take a look at the methods below, plus scroll down to see a bunch of multi-purpose recycling bins – split systems that can work under a counter or free-standing, available at places like the Amazon, Container Store, and Home Depot.
SMALL COUNTERTOP METHOD:
You can line your container with a paper bag like Tom’s (left); choose not to line at all and just rinse out occasionally (plastic, like Diane’s and Martha’s version, can go in the dishwasher), or use a compostable bag liner (2-3 gallon size). The stainless steel “Jaimez” model and ceramic model are available at Linden Hills Co-op, Settergrens or online at amazon.com. Tom’s tall clear container was from Target in the food storage aisle in a set of three. You can order a Sure-Close container at wholesale prices from LHP&L – only $12! Click here to order. Please include your shipping address with your order.
MAKE YOUR OWN: If you want to try making one yourself, check out the easy, frugal method for a $1.50 compost pail here.
PROS: Because it’s small, you’ll avoid having a week’s worth of garbage in your kitchen and avoid odor issues.
CONS: Because it’s small, you’ll need to empty it more frequently, possibly more than once a day. You can’t put pizza boxes or larger items in it. If you have watermelon for example, that might fill the whole pail. If you’re lining it, might be expensive to use so many small bags.
Megan Collins takes 40 seconds to explain her countertop system in a YouTube video.
KITCHEN BIN METHOD
You can line with a 13-gallon compostable bag, or use paper grocery sacks. (If using paper bags, wrap wet items with newsprint, place shredded paper in the bottom or make sure your used paper towels go in first for absorbancy. The compostable bags are recommended as they are less likely to have the bottom drop out like paper sacks.)
PROS: Don’t have to empty as frequently. Fits large quantities of organics, including soiled paper products such as paper plates, fridge, and freezer packaging.
CONS: Expense of bags if you go through more than 1 or 2 per week. Organics sit longer, so may have odor issues. This is my kitchen (don’t look too closely to the dirty floor!), and the scraps have been sitting there for 5 days, and I haven’t noticed any odor issues yet. If I had something I thought would be bad, I’d wrap it in newspaper before putting it in the kitchen bin, or wrap it in newspaper and throw it directly in the outside cart.
Mike’s Tip: ..If you use the 13-gal bags you can’t fill them up before they start to stink (if you have them indoors). What I found works is if you get some strong plastic clips and spin and clip the bag, it contains the smell and you can use it longer. (A clothespin probably works just as well). Thanks, Mike!
TIPS & HINTS:
- Line mini kitchen bin or paper bags with used paper towels, napkins, used paper plates or a sheet of newspaper to help absorb liquid or moisture that escapes from wet food scraps.
- Wrap food scraps like meat, fish, poultry, cooking grease, sauces, soups, etc., in used paper products like used paper towels before placing in mini kitchen bin.
- During warm months, you can freeze food scraps like shellfish or fish until collection day.
- Clean out your fridge, freezer or cupboards of expired food products just before your collection day instead of after your collection day.
- Keep your green cart outside in a shady, convenient, well-ventilated area.
- During the winter, move green cart closer to your house to allow for easier access.
- Keep air vents located at the bottom of the green cart clear to allow for air circulation.
- During warm months, place your green cart curbside each week on your scheduled collection day even if your cart is not full.
- Rub the inside of your green cart lid with vinegar and/or sprinkle a small amount of rock salt, baking soda or lime inside your cart to control fruit flies and prevent pests.
REAL PEOPLE TELL THEIR STORIES
Monica: I compost in the back yard, so I’m really just using the organics cart for egg cartons, meat, bones, and packaging. I use the stainless steel Jaimez on my counter and empty it directly into my back-yard compost; I put the other stuff directly into the cart.
Rhea: My husband designed a plastic cup/office binder solution so we could collect compostables and non-compostables in one trash can. It works particularly well in the bathroom for collecting dental floss. See pic at right.