Why Even Lazy People Should Compost

Betsy over at Eco-novice might be a little too impressed by our composting ability. (Read the comments in this post to see what I mean.) Today, I will prove that composting is not just for advanced ecophiles. In fact, it’s the perfect way to be green & lazy—right up Betsy’s alley.

Pull-out trash and recycling on the left. Glass recycling in the gray bin, compost in the push-pedal bin.

  1. You can treat your compost like an outdoor garbage can. That is, you don’t really need to aerate it, water it, turn it, or do anything to it. You can just dump scraps in there and let them compost on their own. You don’t even have to ever use the finished product—it will all shrink down eventually. Sure, if you want to speed things up you can do all that stuff, but it’s strictly optional.
  2. You can take your trash out less. Because we compost, our trash doesn’t smell—nothing is decomposing in it. (Smelly trash, by the way, is bad for the environment. It’s emitting methane, a greenhouse gas.) We take our trash out of the kitchen once a month. That means we use just twelve garbage bags a year, and we take the big trash can (30 gallons) out to the curb once a month, too. That saves us $110 on our trash bill each year!
  3. You can use the compost as free fertilizer. You don’t have to use the finished compost on your garden or lawn, but why not? It’s free, it comes without packaging and harmful chemicals, and it helps your garden grow—naturally.

While it’s great that composting helps the earth, I’ve got to admit I do it for the first two reasons on this list. I hate taking out the trash—and composting reduces that chore to a mere twelve times a year. Too lazy to compost? I don’t buy it!


  1. Courtney says

    I’ve been wanting to get into composting! I’m glad to know it is easy. Do you leave the silver compost bin under your sink? Does it smell badly at any point? THANKS!

  2. Wait, I am a little confused. How often do you have to take out the compost bin from under the sink? Do you have a huge composting container outside you dump the little under-sink can into? What do YOU do with the finished product??? How often do you have to clean out the compost bin (rinse out after dumping)? It’s true the image in my mind associated with composting is someone wearing rubber boots walking around in muck and turning things over with a rake (this is what my earth-loving friends did in college with the cafeteria’s waste). My sister lives in Portland. I think she told me Portland will pick up your food waste/compost material. Is that right? Maybe I could handle composting after all.

  3. Betsy, yes, I have a big black compost container outside. Every week or so I dump the smaller container under the sink into the big one. I do NOTHING with the finished product. You don’t need to do anything with it if you don’t want to. I’ve lived in my house for two years now. It came with a half-full compost bin. I’ve never used the finished compost, though maybe I will this year.

    Portland does not yet accept food waste in the community compost bins (yard waste only). They did a beta test of 1,000 residents, and I think it worked well, so we may all have it soon. Seattle residents already put food waste out curbside.

  4. Courtney, I do leave that little silver compost bin under my sink. It doesn’t really smell because it just contains veggie scraps and tea leaves. Composting trash doesn’t smell the way rotting trash does, if that makes sense. The main reason I wanted to start composting is because I hated having wet, biodegradable food waste mixed in with my other trash. I would then need to constantly empty the trash can to avoid smells. Now we take the kitchen trash out once a month and dump out the little compost maybe every week or so.

  5. I like what I’m hearing. Now I would like to know what kind of silver trash can with lid you have. I’ve seen some Simple Human ones but they are very pricey. Also, what can you put in the compost container — besides fruit, veggie, and tea leaves? Meat? Dairy? Have you never emptied the outside container? Or have you had it picked up with the trash when it filled up? Is there a good composting 101 site you recommend? If I can take my trash out less and have less stinkiness under my sink, I’m interested.

  6. Betsy, I think it is a simple human trash can. It has a removable inner bucket, which I like. I don’t remember where I got it or how much it cost! I know Bed, Bath, & Beyond carries this brand, and they always have those 20% off coupons.

    I don’t put meat in there because I don’t eat meat (plus, you aren’t supposed to do that. If you want to compost meat and dairy, look into a Bokashi Bin). I never have any dairy to compost, anyway. I try very hard not to waste food, so I very rarely throw out old cheese or something like that. (And if I did, it would of course have to go in the trash.)

    So I do compost veggie scraps (maybe ten lbs./week? We eat a lot of veggies), fruit peels and such, tea leaves and whole tea bags, coffee grounds including the filter, then some yard debris. The city collects 64 gallons of yard debris every other week, so I don’t need to worry about home composting branches and stuff like that.

    The thing about the home compost bin is that it CANNOT FILL UP. There is no need to ever use the fertilizer, get it picked up, take it out, or anything. It just shrinks down, for ever and ever. No matter what I add to it. I have filled it to the top a few times (with loads of petals or grass clippings or something), and it will shrink down by half within weeks. Even over the winter when it’s not really composting, it doesn’t fill up.

    I’m not sure about a composting 101 site. I just dump everything in there and do nothing most of the time. You can cover each food waste layer with grass clippings or straw or something if you don’t like to see a bunch of gloppy food waste in there. That would make everything nice and neat. I do that sometimes.

  7. Other things you can put in the compost besides food scraps: unbleached paper towels/napkins (if you still use paper versions), paper takeout containers (in Seattle they’ve outlawed styrofoam so most takeout containers are either recyclable or compostable), brown paper bags, those flowers you got for Mother’s Day once they’re past blooming. Quite a lot really. We just use the small countertop-style compost bucket and empty it every 3 days or so.

  8. I am totally going to try this and then post about it. I will need to buy 2 cans — probably can find a big outdoor one on Craig’s List. Who knew composting was SO EASY SCHMEEZY? You ladies have inspired me again!

  9. All right! I found a site you might like: http://howtocompost.org.

    The last two houses I lived in came with composting bins outside. I know that the big black kind I have costs about $30 from the city.

  10. your lidded trash can looks much nicer than the sun oxygen cleaner tub that sits in my kitchen with veggie scraps until i take it out!

    we just got chickens (today!), and they eat compostables and table scraps, so we are pretty excited about that…so maybe i can recycle my sun tub;)

  11. Ok, so I am still a little confused…you are using the can with the lid in the house and emptying it in to what? Do you have a big composting bin outside like the huge ones that they sell at Home Depot? I am all about composting and I really want to do it but I have a super small yard and dont really have room for that. Could I use a large can with a lid? I just imagine a heaping, smelly garbage can that almost knocks you over when you open the lid. What do people that live in apartments do because that would be a similar situation.

  12. I have been thinking about getting one of the outside compost bins from the city for a while but am afraid of attracting little creatures…rats? Any advice on avoiding pests? Or am I worried for no reason?

  13. Tncastro says

    Does anyone live in an apartment AND compost? We would love to compost but living in a one bedroom apartment makes it difficult. Any suggestion?

  14. Okay, I don’t think I explained this very well in my original post! I keep the food scraps in that little can under the sink. Every week or so, I empty them into the black compost bin (provided by the city–it came with our house) in the back yard. Neither one should smell. If the inside one smells, take it out. If the outside one smells, it is not composting, it is rotting. You need to aerate it or something. I never have this problem.

    Michelle, I guess you could use a garbage can with a lid if you poked holes in it for air and maybe cut off the bottom of it. I don’t think that would be any smaller than a regular black compost bin, though. The black ones attract the most sun and have ventilation holes. Plus, they have a little door in the bottom for taking the finished compost out.

    If you live in an apartment or don’t have room for an outdoor compost bin, I’d look into the Bokashi Bin I linked to above. (We also talk about it in our book.)

    Zapoura–pests should not be a problem with the compost bin so long as you don’t try to compost meat or dairy or something.

  15. about the tea bags, do we separeted the paper, string, staple and just take leaves?

    about the paper take out, do we need to shreded it?
    how about any paper with writings on it (advertisements paper, old school books, news paper, etc) can we compost it?

    do we need to mix the compost, water it, etc

    Thx a lot ^^

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