Challengicious Monday: Start Composting

>> Monday, March 8, 2010

Mondays are challengicious at The Conscious Shopper. Here's your next trash-related challenge:

Start Composting

To complete this challenge, you can...

  • Install a composting toilet. I almost didn't include composting toilets as an option because they are definitely in the so-extreme-not-many-people-are-going-to-do-it category, but my husband said I should throw it out there just to spread awareness. If you want my opinion on the subject...I think the homemade bucket toilets are naaaasty, but I think this kind of composting toilet is a very cool idea if the price would come down. Anyone use a composting toilet and want to weigh in?

We started a worm bin last September and struggled with it over the winter, finally deciding to let it sit until it warms up outside and then we'll start again. I can't seem to get the right food to worm ratio to prevent leaking. Several times this winter, I should have brought the worms indoors to protect them from the cold, but because of the leaky mess, I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Also, we definitely do not have enough worms for all of our composting needs. I'm debating now whether to get more than one bin going or to start a regular compost pile. Any tips?

For more information about composting, check out:

Will you take the challenge?

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

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zee March 8, 2010 at 3:18 AM  

Great challenge! This reminds me of a post we also did about organic composting last January but no, we didn't mention anything about worm bins and composting toilets! Have never used the latter before. Ours just focused on kitchen scraps that can be used as compost. :)

Theresa March 8, 2010 at 9:59 AM  

We bought 2 compost bins (earth machines, last year from our city for $35 each. The city subsidizes some of the cost since we don't have municipal composting. If you have room on your property, that is definitely the way to go. We bought 2 so that we can let one bin decompose while we add food scraps to the 2nd bin. Just throw in your food scraps, mix it up with a pitch fork or shovel and throw some leaves on top. Water it occasionally if it gets too dry.

KaKi March 8, 2010 at 10:03 AM  

Okay, newbie here. So do you do worm composting instead of the compost bin in the backyard? What are the pros and cons of each? If you have already gone over this, just point me to that post. I have wanted to compost for some time. I just don't seem to be able to do it. I don't know why! I guess I need to start making it happen! Thanks for the challenge.

DramaMama March 8, 2010 at 2:18 PM  

I keep meaning to start a worm bin...! Thanks for the reminder!

Aaron March 8, 2010 at 4:15 PM  

With it starting to get warmer, I have been working on getting my compost pile ready. It is a great way to get nutrients to your plants, and it is organic too. If you are interested in getting started here is a great article on composting.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper March 8, 2010 at 8:29 PM  

@Theresa - I am so jealous you got the Earth Machine for $35. They have those at our Whole Foods for $99.

@KaKi - The worms turn the waste into compost much faster than in a regular compost bin, so it shouldn't smell, you can have a smaller container, and you can keep it indoors. It's supposed to be good for people with limited space (such as in an apartment). In theory. We've had all sorts of leaking issues with ours as well as fruit flies galore. I've never tried a regular compost bin before, though, so I don't have an opinion on that.

Some of the posts I linked to at the bottom of this one have more info about our worm bin, and Brenda from Pragmatic Environmentalism has also written several posts about her worm bin:

Lina March 9, 2010 at 10:12 PM  

Good challenge! We're lazy composters, mostly in that we compost a lot but we don't worry too much about the pile. We're careful not to put any fats or meats in the pile, only veggies and egg shells, but we don't worry too much about the temperature etc. of the pile. My mom likes to say "Compost Happens" and its so true, you just don't need to worry too much about it. I think though we need to step up our efforts a bit and get faster compost going. Thanks for the push!

Corrine March 10, 2010 at 10:14 AM  

We've started trench composting and find it really easy and manageable for our lazy lifestyle. I won't know how effective it is until next year so I can't recommend the end result but the initial effort is minimal. We'll also put trenches in between our garden rows this summer for some more immediate benefit.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper March 10, 2010 at 8:10 PM  

@Corinne - I had never heard of trench composting, so I just looked it up. What a fabulous idea!

Shona~ LALA dex press March 22, 2010 at 9:53 AM  

I have a friend who just installed a compost toilet bucket system because she does not have a reliable water source where she lives + vows never to go back to a regular toilet. I have used her compost toilet many times without problem. She gets sawdust free from an area woodworker + mixes it with cedar she orders by the bale + with each use goes a scoop of this mixture. She said it's never been yucky or smelly, even when cleaning it out. I gave her one of my water collection barrels made from a 55 gal drum I bought from the Coca-Cola plant so she has a source for water to clean said toilet bucket.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper March 22, 2010 at 9:21 PM  

@Shona - Thanks for sharing your perspective on composting toilets! Ever since I read Garbageland, I've been convinced that composting toilets are the wave of the future. Guess we'll see!

Daisy March 30, 2010 at 10:30 PM  

I'm in the middle; I have a standard compost bin. I started using it 10 years ago and couldn't believe how easy it was! I cut our kitchen waste and yard waste considerably, and the result is a rich and dark compost to add to my garden once a year. It's so, so worthwhile.

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