Home > Composting 101, 3 Easy Steps to Start a Home Compost Bin

1: Purchase Composting Bin or Trash Can & Supplies

2: Prepare the Can

3: Fill it Up

Yes! Composting IS that easy. 
So what’s the catch? Seems too simple, right? 

There is one rule:
You must mind your GREENS and BROWNS to be sure you are feeding your microorganisms the right mix to breakdown the pile and multiply their clean earth armies. These guys need greens, browns, air, and water to keep your compost pile healthy.


The average household produces more than 200 pounds of food waste every year.
Composting can greatly reduce the organic trash you send to the landfill and is a great way to turn your kitchen refuse into fertilizer for your garden.

Let's Get Started

Step 1: Purchase Bin or Can & Supplies

Local hardware stores generally carry these items.

compost metal canThe Supply List:
1. 2- or 3- inch hole saw
(for metal if choosing a metal can)
2. metal or plastic trash can
3. metal or plastic can lid
4. window screen or similar metal netting
5. quick dry glue or caulk (non-toxic if possible)
6. organic potting soil with nutrients
7. optional bricks or 2×4 scraps to raise the can off the ground

Tools Needed:
Electric Drill

Step 2: Prepare the Can

First, Using the drill with your hole saw, drill holes all the way around the trash can and the lid 6- to 12- inches apart. 

drill and metal canNext, Cover each hole on the inside of the can with a patch of window screening or similar. Set these in place with a fast setting non-toxic glue or caulk. 

Finally, make sure your can is in a convenient place. If possible, try for a sunny spot, as the warmth will aid in faster breakdown of the contents.

If you chose to grab a few bricks or have 2×4 scraps laying around, prop the can on them for air circulation.

YEAH, congratulations… The hardest part is over! 

Step 3: Fill It Up

Now here comes the fun part…

Think air & moisture first.
So, a couple shovels of soil for the first layer is great, maybe throw in some wood chips or bark just to aerate the soil.
This soil is not required, but will help speed the breakdown along as it already contains many microorganisms. 

Next, it’s time to get your 4 to 1 brown/green ratios started.
Throw in old brown dry leaves, torn up paper, and dryer lint.
Then add your fresh green veggies or fruit scraps throughout the day.

A good rule of thumb when you add greens, throw in 4x as many browns







dryer lint
dry leaves
pine needles & cones
twigs & branches
brown paper bags
dead landscape waste

fruit scraps
vegetable scraps
fresh grass clippings
weeds (unseeded)
coffee grounds & filters
tea leaves & bags
corn cobs & husks
fresh fall leaves

clean eggshells (dried & crushed)


Only if you feel like it…

– mix this compost by throwing the lid on & tumbling the can around a few times.
– add a small scoop of soil to each brown/green layer if you choose.
– aerate and mix with a shovel. Better yet, with the right ratios, you don’t even need to mix.

Decomposition happens not matter how you pile your scraps up. It is a natural process, we’re just containing it in a bin for future garden or potting use. Correct ratios and mixing processes can help to speed the breakdown up.

Pile your compostables, turn them (or not) and, in time, you will have compost.
It really is that simple.


Compost is a natural slow-release fertilizer.
– it enriches the soil, retains moisture and suppresses plant diseases.
– reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
– helps the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create a rich nutrient-filled soil.


Can I add ALL of my kitchen scraps?
Meat, fish, and bones, cannot be quickly composted. These materials will smell and attract unwanted rodents and other pests. They will decompose as they are mostly organic materials, but the trade off may not be worth it for some.

Why do I need the green brown ratios?
Greens are nitrogen or protein rich materials. These items heat up the compost pile and help the microorganisms in the pile grow and multiply for faster compost breakdown.
Browns are carbon or carbohydrate-rich materials. These are the main food sources for the soil-dwelling organisms that work with microbes to break down the bin contents. Brown materials help to aerate the pile and keep it from getting too soggy with greens.

Will my compost bin stink?
If you get a good mix of brown and green materials, your compost pile should smell like dirt (honestly, or nothing at all)
If you do start to smell a foul odor, generally it can be remedied by adding more browns.

How do I know if it’s working?
If you aren’t seeing any progress, it might not be heating up enough. Try adding more greens to get some heat in there for your microorganisms to multiply. 

What about Eggshells?
There are many conflicting ideas on this. Some charts say they are brown, others say they are green. If you don’t crush them before throwing them into the compost, you will see them when the rest of the compost has completed decomposing.
Short summary: eggshells contain great calcium rich minerals. Clean and dry your shells on a counter top for a few days or in the oven. This allows them to crush more completely before you add them to your compost bin. If you don’t mind seeing them in your compost, rinse them off and toss them in.


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