Whether you are looking to create your first compost bin or looking to upgrade your current composting situation, there are a range of compost bin designs ranging from incredibly basic to sophisticated that you can choose from.
There are various reasons that people choose to compost. Composting, the controlled breakdown of organic household waste material, not only has environmental benefits but also personal benefits. Throwing kitchen scraps and lawn debris into a compost pit diverts them from the local landfill. It decreases the weight, volume and odor of trash that has to be hauled to the curb or bin. Composting these materials creates a nutrient rich substance, compost, which can be added to soil as a natural fertilizer. This process can be accelerated by human intervention, and those who want quicker compost can use certain bin designs to expedite the break down.
The most basic of all compost designs is the simple pile. It requires no structure whatsoever. Simply mix your organic kitchen and yard waste into a heap in your backyard. Larger heaps are more effective (strive to create a pile higher and wider than three feet by three feet) and whether you turn the pile to speed up decay or not is up to you.
A very basic and portable compost bin can be created from any plastic storage container. Any size and shape will work from clothes hampers to garbage cans to home storage bins to laundry baskets. Your container will need to have ample holes for air circulation, so you may have to use a drill to perforate your container. Make holes one to two inches apart on every surface, even the bottom and lid. If your container already has larger holes, you might consider lining the inside with pieces of wire mesh to keep compost from falling out. You can keep this compost bin anywhere: in your basement, garage, back porch, or backyard. For quicker breakdown of organic materials in your bin, you can add red wriggler worms (which takes you to the more sophisticated world of “worm composting”), but you will need to keep your bin in a cool indoor area.
You can make a permanent outdoor compost bin using basic carpentry skills. Basically you are creating a box or cylinder that will sit on the ground and allow airflow to the compost within. Pound four sturdy posts into the ground on all four corners (if building a rectangular bin), then create the enclosure using either chicken wire or wire mesh, pieces of wood nailed lengthwise to the posts, or sticks/bamboo/thin wooden planks laid vertically in the ground held in place with heavy-duty wire twisted with pliers.
For those who want rapid break down of their compost, there are different designs such as three-bin units which provide space to turn the compost on a regular basis, or a horizontally mounted barrel which can be closed and rolled to increase the pace of composting. As you can see, composting can be as low maintenance or scientifically precise as you desire.