compost-bins

Celebrate Earth Day with the best budget compost bins

April 19, 2013 at 2:09 PM ET

OXO /
The OXO Good Grips bin is a cheap and popular option for composting food scraps.

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 OXO Good Grips compost bin (starting at $20) serves as a tightly sealed repository for all those banana peels and coffee grounds until you have a chance to add them to a compost heap or outdoor bin. Users who have posted reviews online appreciate that this container is stylish and compact enough to sit on the kitchen counter, not to mention dishwasher safe. (Where to buy)
  • The Gaiam compost bucket (starting at $18) comes in two different sizes and features a carbon filter to minimize odors. Reviewers marvel at how well the filters, which last three months, effectively quash any smell. (Where to buy)

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:

The Redmon Green Culture compost bin helps the material inside decompose into so-called 'black gold.'
  • The Redmon Green Culture compost bin (starting at $47) moves things along with holes in the sides for air circulation and a dark exterior to capture heat. Reviewers point to the doors on all four sides of this 65-gallon bin, which make it easy to retrieve the compost when it’s ready. (Where to buy)
  • The Fiskars Eco Bin (starting at $40) gains notice in reviews for its novel design. The 75-gallon bin collapses for easy storage and has an open bottom that invites worms and microbes in to facilitate decomposition. Consider your local climate, though, as the mesh construction could make it more difficult to keep the compost pile warm and moist. (Where to buy)

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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