It was endearing, but I always told them they were crazy and gave all the
reasons why I wasn't hippy, I mean, do I look like a hippie to you?
Those reasons were: 1) I don't smoke pot, I've never even tried it. Never have, never will. 2) I don't wear rope sandals, never have, never will - that's not to say I had never tried them. I did, and they are super uncomfortable. 3) I don't wear my hair in dreads. That's not to say I've NEVER worn my hair in dreads. Actually they weren't dreads, but one
time, when I was 12, for a two week vacation my mom French braided my hair
into tiny braids all over my head so we wouldn't have to fix my hair for 2
weeks. Anyway, I always gave my coworkers the obvious reason's why I
wasn't a hippy. They were insistent. They said it was because I used
all natural soap and deodorant and therefore always smelled like grass. I
worked at Ted's twice over the span of 3-4 years, so it went on for a long
Fast-forward to now - I'm finally just admitting that I'm a Hippie. I'm using that word very, very liberally. I looked up the term Hippie on Wikipedia and I don't actually fit
any of the vast definition. I'm totally conservative when it comes to sex,
drugs, religion, etc. I'm a strong Christian who believes sex is meant
only for marriage. I believe God calls us to a life of sobriety (which
is not the same as total abstinence), but that's neither here nor there... Sorry, tangent. All this is to say that yes, I compost. And, I LOVE IT. I thought it
was going to smell bad, but it totally doesn't. It smells like rich soil. It smells like the rainforest after it's rained. (I have actually smelled that and you can too. You don't have to go to Costa Rica, you can smell it in your own back yard if you compost. =)) I also like all the bugs. When I lift the lid I can't see anything but old food and soil, but I hear life. It's fantastic. It's noisy with rustling and burying and eating and whatever else the bugs are doing. Then after I shake up the compost bin I take the lid off once more and there are bugs and worms and maggots and all kinds of fun things hurrying to bury themselves again.
Since this is technically supposed to be a how to guide I'll get to the point.
All you need is:
1) A trashcan with a lid that locks closed. I spent at least 2 weeks
going to different stores and looking online for a cheap
trash bin that has a lid that locks. Finally I decided I would
just get the cheapest bin I could find ($15) and figure out a way to
get the lid to stay on.
2) A base. I started with wood and wheels and all kinds of stuff from
Lowe's, but I took it all back after convincing myself this was supposed to be
a inexpensive endeavor and how would I ever sell it to Jason if I was
spending any real money on it. So, what did I do instead of fancy
schmancy? I bought a $1 plastic colander from Dollar General and screwed
it to the bottom with left over screws from a bookshelf I had put
3) A power drill with a large drill bit. (You can probally borrow one if you don't have one and then ask for one for Christmas. Everyone should have an electric
Since you now know how to build a composter I feel like it's time to tell you how to use it. First, start collecting stuff. You can use anything organic (comes from the earth).
Good items to use are:
Coffee grounds and filters
Any part of a fruit or vegetable that you don't eat
Paper towels used to clean up water
Dried grass and leaves
You can also use the poop of certain animals, but I'm not there yet. Google which animals to use because I know for sure you CANNOT use dog or cat poop.
Any animal products (meat, egg whites or yolk, fat, bones, etc.)
Any paper that won't break down easily (magazines, for example)
Anything that's been treated with chemicals (i.e. if you get your grass sprayed, don't use it.) Remember that whatever you compost will be used in your garden, if you have a garden, which will then be in your food.
I keep a plastic spinach leaf container on my counter and whenever it fills up I take it to the compost bin.
BTW: The lid to this trashcan does not come off even though it doesn't have the lock things on the outside.
Composting has actually been really fun for me. I always look forward to checking it out and shaking it up. When I go on long trips and come back it's really cool to see that what was once food is soil. I think it would be even more fun if I had kids to share in the fun. I totally think this is great science project for kids. Just hearing and seeing the bugs that appeared naturally - I didn't add one single bug or worm - has been fun. I know it's gross to think about, but every living thing plays a part. The first week I had it I just dumped some food particles and newspaper in together and after a couple of days I opened the lid and there were a bunch of flying insects in the bin. But, after the first week or two no more flying insects are ever in the bin, only the worms and maggots from the eggs they laid, and of course the bugs that crawl in. I have to be honest. I have seen one and only one roach. I immediately got online to make sure I hadn't made a huge mistake. But, as it turns out the large outside roaches are good for your compost and they don't come in the house. I have never seen one before or since, but it still gave me the willies. I guess that's a good reason to keep your composter away from the house a bit. Other than that, it's totally cool. I really hope that doesn't scare you away because if you have kids they will LOVE this project.
Something to remember is that the composter will work best if it gets a lot of sunlight, but it's not a requirement if you live in a hot climate, like I do. I keep mine
behind a storage shed to hide it from my neighbors and passerbyers. People are scared of composting because they think it will stink up the neighborhood. Even though that's just ignorance on their part, I really don't want to announce that I'm
Lastly, it's important to monitor the moisture level and smell. If the soil is muddy looking you need to add paper or dried leaves or grass. (I like newspaper
because it composts faster.)
If your compost is not composting then you have too much paper. If the compost smells bad then your chemical make-up is not right. You need to check the moisture level and either add water or paper depending. If your compost is on track then from week to week you will have soil instead of food products and your compost bin will smell like fresh, clean soil. If your compost looks dry then add water. I will sometimes add water to my plastic container before I dump it so that I can go ahead and add newspaper at the same time and it won't change the make-up of what's already in there. You can also just add water with a hose. If you live in Dallas or somewhere else where it doesn't rain much then you will probably want to add some water every time you add food from your kitchen.
There is a science behind it. The green organic matter produces nitrogen, which produces bad smells. You need dry organic matter (paper) to keep the nitrogen at the right level so that your stuff is composting rather than rotting.
I hope this helps and that you enjoy your very own compost VERY soon. If you want to learn more, I recommend youtube.
Let me know if you decide to start composting!