April 19, 2013 at 2:09 PM ET
Earth Day, coming up on Monday, April 22, will no doubt spur some to take recycling beyond the blue bin. Composting, which gives food scraps and yard waste a second life as fertilizer, entails a little more effort (and a little more ick factor) than rinsing out bottles and cans.
The Environmental Protection Agency explains how to do it and even provides instructions for fashioning a compost bin from a couple of spare trash cans. If you’re not the DIY type, you can pick up a basic compost bin for less than $50. While that may seem like a bit much for a glorified garbage can, just think of all the bags of Miracle-Gro you won’t be buying, not to mention all the methane your waste won’t be releasing in a landfill.
Start by collecting compostable material -- bits and pieces of produce, eggshells, tea bags. This can go in a coffee can, but a dedicated kitchen pail comes with a lid for odor control and a handle for easy transport. Here are the top picks from Cheapism.com:
The cheapest place to deposit your raw material is in a heap in a corner of the yard. However, a covered bin will neatly contain and hide the debris, ward off critters and rain, and help speed up the composting process, which can take up to two years unaided. Here are Cheapism’s top picks:
Basic bins like the ones above won’t turn trash into so-called “black gold” overnight. Even if you regularly aerate the pile by turning it with a shovel or pitchfork, to speed up the process, be prepared to wait at least several weeks for the finished product. Impatient composters may choose to opt for pricier tumblers, which can be rotated frequently so the compost “cooks” faster.
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