Composting Breakdown

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We’ve all heard of it before, but may not know how to do it, what can be composted and where to put compost once you’ve collected it. It can be intimidating and overwhelming to think about, but composting, or organics recycling, is not as complicated as it may seem!

What is composting?

In technical terms, composting is a natural process of recycling organic material such as leaves and vegetable scraps into a rich soil amendment. In common terms, composting essentially means turning food, plants and some paper materials into a nutrient rich soil that can be used for gardening, landscaping and even road construction projects.

What can I compost?

Here is a great list of dos and don'ts:

What are the benefits?

There are several benefits to composting, but the biggest one is reducing the amount of trash we produce. Composting diverts organic waste into a usable material that can improve our soil.

Other benefits, according to Hennepin County:

  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions

  • Improves soil and protects water

  • Supports local economy through job production

  • Helps meet zero waste initiatives

OK, so how do I get started?

Several cities within Hennepin County already offer organics recycling containers and pick-up as part of their trash service, and many more will be starting in 2022. If this is an option in your city, it is a great way to compost without having to manage the waste yourself.

If you want to get started at home, there are many resources to help you learn what is needed to make a successful organics recycling program for yourself.

Step 1: Find a collection container - this can be a small plastic garbage can with a lid, an old ice cream bucket with lid or a dedicated compost bin with a filter.


Step 2: Choose your location- Under the sink, on top of the counter, in the pantry, in the fridge? All are acceptable locations depending on your space!

Step 3: Fill and empty your bin- Once your household bin fills up, you need to empty it into a larger outdoor bin that will make the composted soil. This bin can hold not only household waste, but also yard waste like leaves and sticks.

Step 4: Turn your soil- Mixing the compost weekly helps ensure the wetter material mixes with the dry material to help reduce odor and help with the breakdown process.

Step 5: Use your soil- Once you have usable soil, sprinkle it on your lawn, mix it with garden soil or make compost tea, a tea-like “drink” for your plants and trees.

While it may seem overwhelming to start, sometimes you have to take the plunge and learn as you go!