If you have decided to start composting, you are definitely making a great and positive decision both for yourself and the environment. The first choice you will have to make in the composting process is deciding which type of compost bin to use. There are several different types of bins on the market, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Knowing the differences will help you choose the right one for your situation, as well as saving you time, money and effort.
Building Your Own
If you have a large yard, you may need to do nothing more than section off a designated area that will fit your compost. An average “bin” needs to be at least 3 ft. x 3 ft. x 3 ft. It should be located in a spot that has easy access to water and adequate drainage, and you will also want to make sure that oxygen can get to the pile. Additionally, you want to have easy access to the pile so that you can rotate it or flip it with a shovel. You may want to put some sort of enclosure around the pile, as this can help to reduce the chance that flies or pests will disturb the compost.
If you are limited on space, an enclosed bin will be suitable for your situation. Most bins come in all shapes and sizes, and some are small enough to fit inside a cabinet or closet, but the idea is that they are all self contained. This type of container is often very low maintenance and the lid means you will not have to worry about flies buzzing around or animals getting into the bin. One disadvantage to this type of bin is that decomposition is very slow. Because it is low maintenance and there is no rotation involved, it could take as long as a year to receive your finished compost.
Rolling bins are great because they are easy to operate and also self-contained. Most rolling bins are also enclosed and can be in a spherical shape which mean that it can be quickly rolled across your yard giving you easy access to add your waste or empty the compost. The waste also gets to be mixed quickly as it is rolled around the yard, which greatly speeds the decomposition process. While the rolling bin is ideal if you have a yard with a lot of space, do keep in mind that when it is full it can be heavy and hard to roll.
Compost tumblers are fully enclosed spherical bins that sit on a stand. They can be easily turned with the crank of a handle, so you get the benefit of the rolling bin without the need for a lot of space. If you do choose to purchase this type of compost bin, remember to buy one that has a sturdy handle. As the bin fills, it will be harder to turn and cheap or ill-made parts may break off easily.
While you may find other types of compost bins on the market, the ones listed here are generally considered to be the most popular. Knowing a little bit about each will help you size up your personal situation and determine which compost bin will work best for you in your endeavor to be environmentally friendly.