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Why should I use a compost bin?

Posted by Garden Tech, on August 30, 2021.

Compost Bin

In the modern age there is a lot of talk about being environmentally friendly and doing our bit to reduce carbon footprints. It is often mentioned that using a compost bin or composter can help, but if you are wondering “why should I use a compost bin?” we explain how it works and the benefits of buying one for your home. 

What is a compost bin?

A compost bin is a storage unit used for organic material to decompose into compost so it can be reused to fertilise fruit, vegetables and plants in the garden.

The organic material is not just simply left to rot until it turns into compost. A well-made compost bin will promote moisture retention and correct aeration to support the growth of aerobic organisms that will eventually create the fertiliser.

What are the benefits of using a compost bin?

Using a compost bin, or ‘composting’ as it is referred to by some people, offers a number of benefits for both the garden and the wider environment:

  • Compost is rich in nutrients and when added to soil helps to maintain the soil’s PH balance, improve its structure and preserve levels of moisture.
  • Some of the nutrients included in compost include potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen, while it can also help soils that contain higher levels of alkaline or acid. 
  • It plays a big role in maintaining the overall health of the soil and helps to combat plant disease which can quickly spread and cause widespread damage if left unmanaged.
  • Environmentally, compost plays a big role in reducing the amount of food wastage sent to landfills. With less waste sent to landfills you reduce the amount of harmful CO2 gases that rise to damage the ozone layer. 
  • Composting for a single year reduces the same amount of CO2 produced by a washing machine during a 3 month period, or by a kettle every year. 

What kind of materials can you put in a compost bin?

You can place almost any biodegradable material into a compost bin. However, you should avoid putting in any meat, fish or any food that has been cooked. Examples of biodegradable material include:

  • Leaves
  • Grass 
  • Old flowers
  • Wood
  • Paper 
  • Vegetable peelings
  • Toilet roll
  • Corn cobs and stalks 
  • Human and animal waste

You should try to create an even balance between the types of materials put into the bin. Use a good mixture of materials like salad waste, vegetable peelings and used tea bags, along with things like corrugated cardboard, shredded plain paper and dry leaves. 

How long does it take for materials to decompose?

If you put together a good mixture of biodegradable materials as mentioned above, the contents of the compost bin should take around 6 to 9 months to become usable compost. You won’t need to do anything during this period except wait for it to decompose fully.

Some households opt to use two compost bins due to the time it takes for compost to be ready for use. If staggered across different time periods you can have one bin that is decomposing and another that has compost ready for use.