Composting breaks down organic materials and turns them into soil. The idea might conjure up images of dirt, trash and worms. While all of those things are a part of composting, the practice is actually pretty convenient, clean and best of all, a huge environmental saver.

Why Compost?

When we throw away things like food scraps, coffee grounds, leaves, paper towels and newspapers, they go into landfills. If we were to compost these same materials, we wouldn’t need as many landfills. Nobody wants to live near landfills which are stinky, unsightly, and cause air pollution. Instead, we can create compost piles and make our own soil for our yards. Composting helps the landfill problem, creates nutrient rich soil, and saves money on fertilizer. Talk about a win-win-win. 

What Can Be Composted?

Think things like fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, stale bread, coffee grounds and filters, cooked rice and pasta and natural tea bags. You want to compost those types of “green” items with “brown” materials such as wood chips, leaves, cereal boxes and paper bags. Check out Glad’s complete list of what to compost as well as what not to compost. (Tip: your pet’s waste does not belong in the composting pile).

Where Do I Start?

First, get a bin, but not just any bin. Since composting is becoming more popular, you can find composting bins anywhere from Amazon to Home Depot. You can also create your own if you are the DIY type.

Next, choose a location in your yard. You want it easily accessible, in the shade, close to a hose and convenient to the area where you will ultimately be using your amazing composted soil. Check out all the considerations in this handy guide. Also, don’t let your small yard (or even lack of a yard) stop you; composting can be done indoors too. 

Getting a bin and finding the location are the easy parts. Creating your compost pile isn’t too complicated but it’s not as simple as just throwing compostable items into your bin. Check out Georgia Recycling Coalition’s website which has helpful how-to videos to get you started. The key is balance; you want a good mix of the brown items (which are high in carbon to provide energy) and green items (high in nitrogen to provide protein). A good rule of thumb is 4:1 browns and greens. Without the proper balance, your compost may not heat up (critical for creating soil) or worse, could start to smell.

You will also need to water your compost pile and turn it every week or so with a pitchfork. This will attract earthworms which are fantastic for building soil.

Once you get the hang of it, composting is simple. You can feel good that you are helping your own yard and our entire planet. And of course, your kids will love anything that involves dirt and worms.

Beginner’s Guide to Composting in Atlanta
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