At Home Compost: A How-to Guide for Organic Waste

At Home Compost: A How-to Guide for Organic Waste

Do you ever toss banana peels or leftover dinner into the bin with a twinge of guilt? You’re not alone. Millions of tons of food scraps meet this fate each year, silently contributing to a massive global issue: food waste. But what if we told you there is a different way? Whether you live in a house with a garden or an apartment, you can unlock the hidden potential of your food scraps.

Composting bin with compost
Photo from

This isn’t some eco-warrior fantasy. It’s the magic of at-home composting, a simple practice with powerful benefits. Not only does it reduce your carbon footprint, but you can also create nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants.

Intrigued? Keep reading to discover the secrets of home composting and its pivotal role in promoting sustainability!

Over 58 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually in the European Union alone, with households responsible for more than half (54%).

Eurostat, 2023

You do know where this excess food goes, right?

Yes, the landfills! Luckily, we can use these scraps to help our soil while minimizing what we send to the landfill. 


What Is Composting?

Composting is a controlled process that converts organic materials into nutrient-rich soil through natural decomposition. Microorganisms feed on the materials added to the compost pile during the composting process. Finally, compost as the end product can be used as a soil amendment or as a mulch, nourishing and improving the health of the soil. Simply put, it’s a win-win for you and the environment!

Ready to use compost
Photo from

Why Compost? The Benefits Go Beyond Your Garden

Are you asking yourself, why do the extra step of composting? Well, the benefits of composting go far beyond nourishing your house plants or garden, but let me give you 5 reasons why you should compost:

1. Composting Can Reduce Landfill Waste

Did you know that up to 30% of household waste can be composted? On top of this, organic waste is difficult to decompose in landfills as it doesn’t get the air it needs. By diverting organic materials from landfills, you become a landfill reduction warrior. This not only conserves valuable space but also helps reduce methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to climate change. Think of yourself as a tiny superhero, saving the planet one banana peel at a time!

2. It Can Save You Some Money

Why spend money on chemical fertilizers when you can create your own nutrient-rich compost for free? Composting reduces your reliance on store-bought fertilizers, saving you money in the long run. Plus, it is chemical-free, so your body will also thank you the next time you eat your homegrown tomatoes.

3. A Quality Meal is a Privilege

In the EU alone, a staggering 19% of all food available to consumers ends up wasted – that’s enough to feed millions. This is particularly concerning when you consider that over 37 million people in the EU struggle to put a quality meal on the table every other day. Composting helps you become a conscious consumer, reducing food waste at home and contributing to a more sustainable food system.

4. Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants

Compost isn’t just plant food; it’s a soil superhero! By adding compost to your soil, you improve its structure, drainage, and water retention. This creates a healthier environment for plants to thrive, boosting their resilience to pests and diseases. It’s like giving your soil a power-up, leading to a flourishing ecosystem.

5. Joining a Greener Movement

Last but not least, composting isn’t just about you; it’s about joining a global movement towards sustainability. By embracing composting, you’re becoming part of a community dedicated to reducing waste and protecting the environment. It’s a small step with a powerful ripple effect, inspiring others to join the composting revolution!

Have I persuaded you yet? What if I tell you that composting doesn’t have to be any harder than throwing your scraps into an organic bin?


Getting Started with Composting: A Beginner’s Guide

Composting is a straightforward process that requires minimal effort and can be done in various ways, even if you live in an apartment! Here’s a breakdown of the essentials:

1. Gather Your Gear

No need for fancy equipment! Just grab a shovel, countertop bin or a dedicated indoor composting system and start collecting food scraps in a closed container on your kitchen counter, under your sink, or in your fridge or freezer. 

At home composting
Photo from

We recommend getting a container with a lid to keep in the kitchen. This will make it simple and cut down on odours. You can also freeze your scraps in a container to prevent pesky odours and fruit flies. Moreover, apartment dwellers with limited space can explore the Bokashi composting bins or other convenient options that we will talk about later on.

2. What To Compost?

It’s time to give those fruits, veggies, and coffee grounds a second life! Here’s a cheat sheet for what you can add:

“Greens” like old flowers, grass clippings, spoiled produce scraps, and used tea/coffee. “Browns,” add cardboard, newspaper, dead leaves, branches, and eggshells. In fact, your organic kitchen waste, which is high in nitrogen, should be paired with outdoor organic materials like branches or stems – even coffee grounds work! This provides the carbon, which is necessary to balance the nitrogen needed for healthy compost. 


Nitrogen-Rich Materials (“Greens”)  Carbon-Rich Materials (“Browns”)
Fruit and vegetable scraps Dry leaves
Grass clippings Plant stalks and twigs
Coffee grounds and paper filters Shredded paper (non-glossy, uncolored) and shredded brown bags
Paper tea bags (no staples) Shredded cardboard (no wax coating, tape, or glue)
Eggshells (crushed)  Untreated wood chips
Table by US Environmental Protection Agency

Remember, DO NOT compost pet waste, diseased plants, oil, or coal ash—these can harm the decomposition process.

3. Build Your Compost Pile

Once you have your gear prepared, you can start placing twigs or branches at the bottom of your bin to allow for drainage and air circulation. This prevents your compost from becoming smelly or soggy. Now, here’s the easy part: add your kitchen waste and top it with more straw or branches. Simply alternate your kitchen waste with dry waste each time, but don’t forget to keep it moist. Here are some more tips that can help you:

  • Brown materials, such as newspapers, help with the decomposition process.
  • Your compost should be moist like a wrung-out sponge. Add water if it feels dry, especially in drier climates. You can, for example, keep a spray bottle filled with water to adjust moisture levels in your indoor compost bin.
Step by step composting guide
Original graphic made by the author from

Lastly, cover your compost pile with some wood or a plastic tarp and wait. 

4. Patience is the Key

Every few weeks, move the pile around with a shovel to allow some oxygen to reach the bottom and promote decomposition. Depending on the size and conditions, your compost can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Once your compost has a dark, earthy smell and crumbly texture, it’s ready to use! You can use the finished compost in your apartment in a few ways. 

Compost Tea

Not for you! The tea is for your lovely plants, of course. Soak your compost in water for 24-48 hours to make liquid fertilizer. Add “compost tea” to any potted plants or herbs to help them grow.


Using compost as mulch is a great way to keep weeds down and help the soil stay moist. Spread the finished compost in a thick layer on top of the soil of your indoor plants.

Donate Your Compost

Do you have excess compost? Donate it to a local farm or community garden.

Video by Gittemary Johansen in Youtube

Composting Solutions for Every Space

Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a cosy apartment balcony, there’s a composting solution for you:

Compost bin

Compost bins offer a user-friendly option for both backyards and balconies. These bins keep your compost contained and manage odours, making them perfect for smaller spaces.

Bokashi composting

This indoor composting method uses a specialized bucket with a fermentation process to break down all food scraps quickly and efficiently. It’s perfect for limited spaces and can handle food scraps, such as meat and dairy, that traditional composting cannot. The two-step process makes it super easy and decreases the time needed for decomposition.

Bokashi bin

Unlike traditional composting, bokashi is an anaerobic process, meaning it doesn’t require oxygen or brown materials. The compost fermentation process happens in a special airtight container, so there are no odours. This process also creates bokashi tea and pre-compost. While bokashi allows the composting of meat and dairy, the resulting pre-compost is acidic and needs further breakdown in a traditional compost pile or by burying it in the garden. The bokashi tea, also acidic, requires dilution before using on plants.

Conquer composting with a ready-made Bokashi Composting Set here.

Worm composting

This method utilizes worms to break down organic materials in a contained bin. The end product is a highly valuable and nutrient-rich fertilizer. There is no need to turn the bin since the worms can move freely throughout, mixing it for you.

Worm bin

Worm bins can be as large or as small as you’d like. However, the most important part of having a worm bin is making sure the worms have proper living conditions. They need to be kept in an environment that is 15-27 degrees Celsius, usually under the sink, which is an excellent place for storage.

Apartment composting made easy! Explore worm vases right here.

Traditional pile

This is the classic method ideal for those with outdoor space. Build a pile of alternating brown and green materials directly on the ground.


See, that wasn't that hard. Composting isn't just about reducing waste; it's about creating a win-win for you and the environment. With our step-by-step guide and tips, you can make it a reality! It's easier than you think, with solutions for every space, from countertop bins to balcony composters. So, ditch the guilt and embrace the power of composting. Your plants (and the planet) will thank you!


If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy our article on making your own natural cleaning supplies.

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Article by Bibiana Eva Bartschova. I am an impact-driven researcher from the Czech Republic. My passion for the circular economy led me on a journey of discovery, equipping me with research skills and a desire to contribute to a sustainable future through innovative solutions.


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Article also published in our founder's blog: My Shade of Green