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4 Common Home Composting Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

Whether you're just starting out or have been composting for a while, here are the most common home composting mistakes—and how to fix them.

Written by
Kristine Nguyen

Home composting is an amazing way to implement more eco-friendly practices into your everyday life, but it can be overwhelming—and confusing—at first. What's green and brown compost? Are you supposed to add water? What can and can't I compost? They're questions all beginners have.

With the elements that go into making a good compost, you're bound to make a couple mistakes along the way. But that's okay! If you're a newbie to home composting and are afraid of messing up, don't be. To turn you into a pro in no time, we're sharing some of the most common composting mistakes below—and exactly how to fix them.

Home Composting Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

1. Not Having a Good Balance of Browns and Greens

When you compost, you need a balance of both green and brown materials. Brown materials are dry and rich in carbon. Think newspaper shreds, dried leaves, and twigs. Green materials are wet and rich in nitrogen, and include things such as kitchen scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and fresh leaves.

If you have too many green materials in your compost, your compost could become too wet (causing it to stink!). Too many brown materials might be too drying and take a lot longer to break down. If you notice your compost is really mushy and smells foul, add more brown materials. If it looks dry, add more green materials and some water to moisten the mix.

2. Choosing the Wrong Place for Your Bin

The perfect location for your compost bin is essential to creating good compost. Putting it in an area that's too cold could seriously slow down your composting process, but putting it in an area that's too hot will dry it out. Find an area that gets a good mix of sunlight and shade so that your bin can still produce compost efficiently, without drying out or requiring frequent watering.

3. Forgetting to Aerate Your Compost

Your compost needs oxygen to thrive, just like we do. Without a sufficient amount of oxygen, the process could slow down. In order to aerate your compost, turn your pile. Though how often you turn your compost may vary, a good rule of thumb is to turn it around every three to four days using a shovel or a fork.

4. Adding Non-Compostable Materials to Your Compost

Although lots of materials can be composted, there are also materials that can't. Many people often make the mistake of adding things to their compost bins that can't break down, which slows down your compost as a whole—including meat, eggs, and dairy products. This could breed bacteria and stink up your bin. Also avoid throwing pet waste or paper that's glossy or coated.

Some plastic packaging may also be labeled as compostable, but beware. Most of the time, these plastics can only be composted under specific conditions that can only be fulfilled at an industrial composting facility (and not in your at home bin).

Now that you're a home composting pro, watch our YouTube video on how to be even more zero waste:

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