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Composting not only reduces waste in landfills, but can also improve your backyard garden! Compost material can be added to soil to help all types of plants grow. This means you’ll have bigger produce, prettier flowers and a healthier garden with no extra cost to you or the environment. Here are 6 easy steps you can take to start composting at home. 

Find a good container: Whether you choose a plastic bin or a stainless steel one, make sure it comes with a sealing lid. Some plastics may absorb smells, if you find this to be the case, use an old stainless steel ice bucket with a matching lid to start collecting your compostable material.

Use biodegradable bags: When lining the inside of your bin, use biodegradable bags. It may be tempting to reuse plastic bags from the grocery store, but these aren’t biodegradable and can defeat the purpose of your composting. Biodegradable bags are widely sold and are not expensive. 

Fill your bin: You can add almost anything from your kitchen and garden — some surprising material includes egg shells, flowers, coffee grounds (and paper filters), old newspapers, tea and tea bags, hair (pet and human), and matches. The trick is to aim for equal amounts of “green” waste and “brown” waste to keep your compost healthy. “Green” waste includes moist matter like fruits and vegetables and “brown” waste is dry matter, which can be items like wood shavings, dry leaves, or even old newspapers.

Don’t forget moisture: Compost needs oxygen and moisture. Without air, your compost will start to rot and smell. Moisture helps break everything down, so be sure to sprinkle the compost with water every now and then. With the right mixture, your compost should smell like nothing but earthy dirt. 

Wait a few weeks: In a few weeks, food scraps will turn into soil. Turn your mixture over every week or two with a garden fork to mix it up. If you’re not seeing progress after a few weeks, add more “green” or “brown” material. 

Empty your bin: Incorporate your compost into your garden or sprinkle it on top. Remember, compost is not a replacement for soil, but rather acts as a natural fertilizer to nurture soil and plants. Add it a few times a year for best results. If you don’t have a garden, see if your community offers collection services. If you have a surplus, store the bags in your freezer. The cold will keep it fresh and prevent rotting. 

Composting is one of the most effective ways to minimize the amount of garbage your family sends to the landfill. Not only does it reduce methane gas, but composting also controls trash can odor. On top of that, you’ll be left with a rich fertilizer you can use in your own backyard garden or donate to your community.