In case you missed it, composting at home is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the planet recover from the damage we humans have done to it. There are obvious long-term benefits when you opt in to a more environmentally-friendly way of life with small steps like composting, and this particular practice boasts some immediate advantages for the individual, too—namely the promise of achieving all your gardening goals. Yep, with compost in your corner, you don’t even need to have a green thumb to grow some impressive plants and veggies on your home turf. (Psst: No garden? No problem. Composting can also help your local park thrive if they have a compost drop-off spot.)
According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), composting is “the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants.” Basically, compost is superfood for your garden—and you can make the stuff with nothing more than last week’s soggy fruit salad and a handful of leaves. How, you ask? Well, when you send food scraps and other organic stuff to a compost bin that boasts the right conditions, decomposition will occur—courtesy of the organisms and microorganisms that feast on the material. (As they say, one man's trash is a nematode’s treasure.) Once all the decomposing organisms have gorged themselves on your waste, the end result is a thoroughly digested product that’s rich in nutrients and good for the ground. Aside from the obvious bonus of eliminating stinky trash whilst growing your own Eden, the NRDC says that home composting reduces food waste, conserves water and cuts methane emissions from landfills, to boot.
That said, not everything you typically chuck can be rerouted to the compost bin. The NRDC cautions against composting oil, lard, meat, fish, bones, dairy, diseased or pesticide-treated plants and pet poop (ew). These ingredients can kill the microorganisms you want to attract, create a big stink in your backyard and potentially invite unwanted guests (think: bears, raccoons and rats) onto the premises. Eggshells, fruits and veggies in any condition, uncoated cardboard or paper, coffee grounds, hair, fur and yard trimmings are all fair game, though. OK, ready to get started? Excellent. Now all you need is a receptacle for all that compostable gold. Read on for a rundown of the different types of bins on the market, plus our picks for the best compost bins in each category.