Composting With Kids

Composting is a great way to use food waste, but we need to be alert to plastic contamination. (Photo: mubus7/Shutterstock)

Compost is the ultimate recycler, turning your yard waste and kitchen scraps into usable mulch that you can use to feeds your plants. It’s as eco-friendly as you can get. And the best part about it is that it is cheap, and after the initial set-up it is relatively easy to do. There are many resources you can turn to learn more about composting, but here are the basics:

Composting 101

  1. A successful compost pile needs two basic components: carbon (shredded newspapers, cardboard, and straw) and nitrogen (lawn clippings, kitchen waste, and weeds).
  2. Combine these components in a ratio of roughly 5 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen in a compost bin or pile in your yard.
You can buy compost bins in all shapes, sizes, and colors or make your own bin in your backyard. The size compost bin that you need will be determined by your expectations and dedication to the project, as there are bins in all shapes and sizes. You can build your own with a couple of boards or a wire cage. If you decide to purchase one, check out the Back Porch Compost Tumbler, available through Planet Natural. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, won’t look unsightly in your yard, lets you “roll” the compost (rather than turn it with a shovel), and it can produce finished compost in 4-6 weeks. Also check out the Rolypig composter. It looks like a pig, and you “feed” the waste into a snout, and the compost comes out of the rear!

Decomposition detective

You can also help your kids understand composting by making a small pile that they can track. Using a bucket or a sectioning off a small area in your yard, help your child bury compostable food scraps from your last meal under a layer of soil. Leave the scraps buried and undisturbed for one week, then help your child unearth the pile and monitor its decomposition progress.