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Definition: Composting

Composting is the act of turning organic waste — i.e., all plant- and animal-derived garbage — into mulch that can be used as fertilizer. Composting can be accomplished in several ways: Some people keep compost piles in their backyards and use the mulch in their gardens, where the nutrients provide food for important micro-organisms. City-dwellers often use odor-reducing compost bins, such as this Kitchen Compost Crock, since many cities now offer sidewalk compost pickup.

Why should you compost? Because according to the EPA, yard and food waste together make up nearly one-quarter of all U.S. waste. Almost all lawn trimmings can be added to a compost pile, as can most of the trash produced in your kitchen, including apple cores, veggie scraps, and the like. It is best to avoid putting dairy or meat products into a compost, since they can be very stinky and attract rodents.

Join The Conversation
stephcorinn stephcorinn 7 years
What do you do with the composted stuff if you don't have a garden? I want to start a compost bin, but I don't know what to do with the stuff once it's "composted" or whatever.
geohiker geohiker 9 years
We keep two compost bins going all the time - eating a lot of veggies means veggie waste (tops of celery, stems, the ones that rot before I cook them, etc), his coffee grounds and my tea bags, plus grass clippings and the trimmings from the bushes around the house. It is so easy to do and the dirt really helps my garden!
tkoblondee tkoblondee 10 years
I'm going to do this!
JennyJen2 JennyJen2 10 years
We just had this discussion at work a few weeks ago and it surprised me how many people do this. I have never tried, but I also never realized how much organic waste is in our trash !
meijan415 meijan415 10 years
i also compost my tea bags, and leaves, if loose. i just have to remember to remove any staples on the tea bags, if applicable.
cageyme cageyme 10 years
I compost grass clippings, leaves, and kitchen scraps. You can also compost egg shells and coffee grounds. Most coffee shops will give you their coffee grounds for free if you ask. Composting can be as easy as throwing organic stuff in a pile and waiting for it to decompose and as complicated as making sure your "brown" to "green" ratio is just right.
moderngal moderngal 10 years
composting is super easy... I live in a large city and have a small compost bin outdoors that recycles my waste and provides the soil for my potted plants. It's really so easy- I wish more people would try it!!
allisonblue allisonblue 10 years
Vermicomposting is also a great composting alternative for city slickers. You can buy a worm bin from a Web site like, or make your own with a Rubbermaid Roughtote!
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