Reduce Your Kitchen Waste by 50%: Beginners Guide to Indoor Kitchen Composting

It’s a fact. Over one-third of the food produced in the United States is never eaten, wasting the resources used to produce it, and creating a myriad of environmental impacts.

Food waste is the single most common material landfilled and incinerated in the United States, comprising 24 and 22 percent of landfilled and combusted municipal solid waste. As the United States strives to meet the Paris Agreement targets to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, changes to the food system are essential. About 8% of greenhouse gas emissions come from wasted food and roughly half of all food waste occurs during “the consumption stage,” meaning waste from food service and households.

Food is too precious to waste, and you worked hard for it, and through meal planning and thoughtful purchasing you have reduced waste, but there are certain things you’re just not going to eat – like banana peels, coffee grounds, left over teabags, eggshells and more. Keeping food out of landfills can help fight climate change and make some big steps in helping Mother Earth.  And, luckily, there’s an easy solution for your home food waste, and that’s kitchen composting and it doesn’t matter if you’re in a suburban home or a tiny apartment. Composting can help you turn your food waste into beautiful earthy compost.

What Is Compost?

Counter top composter next to sink

Composting is the natural process of reutilizing organic matter, for example leaves and food scraps, creating a nutrient rich fertilizer that can be used in your gardens. Most living things decompose; by composting you are speeding up the process of decomposition.  You facilitate this by creating an ideal environment for bacteria and organisms to breakdown the material efficiently. What you end up getting is “black gold” that is rich in nutrients and helps your garden flourish.

Depending on where you live, you may have access to composting facilities where your compost scraps can be processed. Other areas

may have neighborhood composting sites where they also collect your compostable discards. If those options aren’t available, you can start your own compost pile in your back yard or in a metal compost bin on your outside porch (for apartments).

What Types of Compost Are There?

There are three kinds of composting: aerobic, anaerobic, and vermicomposting.

  • Aerobic composting is decomposition of organic matter by way of microorganisms that require oxygen. These microbes are responsible for composting using naturally occurring bacteria and thrive in the dampness of the organic substances. Oxygen aerates the moisture and is absorbed by the microbes in the compost.
  • Anaerobic composting is decomposition that occurs using microorganisms that do not require oxygen to survive. In an anaerobic system much of the chemical energy contained within the starting material is released as methane.
Composting can on the counter with food scraps
  • Vermicompost is the product of the decomposition process using various species of worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms, to create a mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast, a mixture of earthworm castings and uneaten bedding and feedstock harvested from worm beds.

Benefits of Using a Kitchen Composter

man lifting Behrens compost bag from kitchen composter

Putting food waste in a separate kitchen compost pail is a no-brainer that feels good because it’s such an easy way to improve the world.

Indoor composting is a bit more involved than just dumping food waste into a bin. If that’s your ideal composting scenario, you may want to consider sending your food waste to be composted off-site. Many cities have compost services and separate bins for collection.

There are also subscription services that come to your home and pick up the kitchen food scraps and there are drop off locations, like farmers markets or gardening centers. This is how you can use a kitchen countertop compost bin as a holding spot for your scraps until you move them somewhere to be composted-either in your backyard or a city service.

Easily collect your scraps in a small bin lined with a certified biodegradable bag like a Behrens 1.5 Gallon Compostable Food Scrap Bags.

Should You Compost?

Whether you compost at home or collect scraps to take somewhere else to be composted, you can make a serious positive impact.

  • Less garbage.You’ll find that you aren’t tossing as much into your regular garbage can, which means less trips outside. Additionally, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by sending less food waste to landfills.
  • No more stinky trash cans sitting in the heat. One of the worst smells is hot trash. Without all the organic material, you’ll have less odors coming from those cans. Say goodbye to bad smells and gross sludge in your garbage bin.
  • Gain perspective on how much waste you’re creating. Most of us don’t realize how much waste we generate day in and day out. Once you start composting, you get a realistic view of how much garbage you are product from things like plastic and non-organic items. These are all things that will sit in a landfill for years and years.
  • Realizing how much plastic is used in packaging. It’s insane how many of our day-to-day items come packaged in plastic!  We use plastic bags and plastic clamshells for our produce, the very things we want to compost to cut down on waste. You can begin being more conscious of purchasing items in compostable packaging vs. not.
  • Endless supply of healthy dirt for plants, garden, and lawn.
  • Clean up after meals is faster and easier!

What Can Be Composted?

You can put most food scraps in your indoor composter. You can add fruit and veggie leftovers, coffee grounds, tea bags, shredded paper, and the trimmings from houseplants to your composting.

You do not want to put meat, dairy, or fats into your compost. Some people recommend composting dryer lint or hair. However, these items can take some time to break down, particularly in an indoor bin. They tend to not heat up nearly as much as an outdoor compost can and they have less bacterial breakdown going on. In general, lint and hair are not likely to break down at all. It can be a massive pain to sift through the hair and lint when it’s time to add your compost to your garden.

To prevent your compost from becoming smelly, don’t add a lot of onion peelings and such, because you may smell up the rest of your home. Watery items, such as melons and squash are often watery and should be added minimally to your pile to avoid making the contents of your bin too moist.

Indoor Composting Tips to Help You Get Started

Transform your food waste into organic dirt for your plants, lawn, or garden. You will want to keep a few important tips in mind for your indoor composting operation:

  • Keep a bit of shredded paper or dry leaves available – As you add food scraps, coffee grounds, and such to your bin, you’ll also want to throw a little brown matter in. This will keep your compost from getting too soggy, as well as provide carbon to the mix.
  • Routinely mix and turn your pile – This aids in getting the to bin warm up a bit and increases microbial action. Mixing the contents is a good way to avoiding soggy and dry pockets in the bin. When using a metal bucket, roll it around a few times to stir its contents.
White composter still life with Behrens composting accessories; charcoal filter, compostable bags
  • Keep your food scraps small: Chop food and paper materials into small pieces when you can. This will assist in speeding up the composting process. kitchen scraps take longer to decompose than smaller ones. Tearing your waste before composting will speed up the decomposition process.
  • Make sure you don’t throw in non-compostable materials – Not all scraps can be composted. Items like bones and dairy products can attract unwanted pests or prevent the composting process from being effective.
  • Your compost shouldn’t smell: If you find a yucky smell coming from your compost pile, it’s not working properly. You will need to troubleshoot the issue with your pile. It can be as simple as adding paper to dry up excess moisture. It could also be not having enough oxygen, and you ought to ventilate your pile more.
  • Avoid fruit flies and pests: In the summers, you can get rid of fruit flies by keeping your bin in the freezer. With vermicomposting and aerobic composting, bury your food waste under a layer of dirt so it doesn’t attract pests.
  • Ensure there’s a proper balance of brown and green matter: Aerobic composting and worm compost bins both require about 3 to 1 of brown and green material. As you are tending your indoor composter you can use shredded paper for brown, and your food scraps for green material.

At Behrens, we manufacture responsibly, preserving the earth’s natural resources, reducing energy consumption and emissions. We are a proud partner of  the non-profit global organization Metal Recycles Forever, which strives to make metal the preferred choice for consumer and industrial packaging. Behrens is one of the select few manufacturers authorized to display their logo on our products.  If you’re interested in finding out more about our beautiful and functional galvanized steel products, please check out our catalog or contact us today.

Behrens on Sustainability

Behrens wants consumers and retailers to know that steel is one of the most sustainable products on the planet. With 70% of domestic steel starting as scrap metal, it can be infinitely recycled with no loss of inherent properties, is rodent-proof, odor-proof, weather and chemical resistant with zero petroleum. All of these attributes make steel a superior material to plastic, a limited-recyclable material that is shown to harm wildlife, oceans and people.

Visit behrensmfg.com to learn more, including where to find a scrap metal recycler in your area.  An electronic media kit is available at behrensmfg.com/press.

About Behrens

Founded in 1911, Behrens Manufacturing creates high-quality, well-crafted metalware in Winona, Minnesota. From the past century to today, Behrens is forever forged into the fabric of U.S. manufacturing and remains a tribute to American ingenuity and craftsmanship. Behrens Manufacturing is proud to be the number one steel container manufacturer in America. Visit online at behrensmfg.com to learn more.