October 16th, 2014

My Love Hate Relationship With Composting

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Groovy Green Livin Composting

Composting hasn’t come easily for me. I’ve been trying on and off for the past few years to compost our kitchen scraps and encourage my family to do the same. Seems like a pretty simple task, yet I’m struggling.

I have all the right equipment- an outdoor compost bin and an indoor compost pail, which is always under the sink.

My composting system is in place, however I can’t get into a groove.

Here’s why composting isn’t working for me:

  1. The smell
  2. The fruit flies

The fruit fly problem was so awful last year that I ended up leaving the composting pail on our back deck for most of the winter.  I needed a composting vacation.

Now I’m back from my composting vacation and I’ve decided to take the NBC Green is Universal Eco Eats Challenge to compost kitchen food waste.

Here’s the challenge:

Give Compost A Chance: Food scraps make up 7 percent of household waste, on average. Try composting your food scraps instead of sending them to a landfill and and watch your garbage bag deflate.

Did you know that a typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste each year. That means about 1.5 lbs per person a day in the U.S. Food scraps generated by all households in the United States could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high. That’s a lot of waste.

The solution to my composting issues was simple: dump the compost pail outside in the compost bin daily so there’s no opportunity for fruit flies or that horrible smell to surface.

Here are a few tips to make kitchen scrap composting work for you.

  1. Invest in a quality compost pail for your kitchen.
  2. Do not compost meats, dairy and fish. Stick with other food scraps.
  3. Keep all pesticide and/or herbicide treated food scraps out of your compost bin and pail.
  4. Empty your containers daily to insure that no smell spreads throughout your kitchen or home. This will also keep the fruit flies away.

It’s amazing how I’ve reduced the amount of garbage we throw away by composting our kitchen food waste.

What’s your trick to composting? I’d love to hear.


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 Disclaimer: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their products. Thank you in advance.

 Are you interested in ‘eco-eating’? NBC’s Green is Universal is hosting an “Eco Eats” sweepstakes from September 29 – October 17. To join, visit their free green-living tool, One Small Act, and join the “Eco Eats” challenge. Everyone who signs-up and tackles at least one action by October 17th will be entered to win one of five 6-month subscriptions to NatureBox. No Purchase Necessary. Must be US resident and 18+. Read official rules here.

Note: In exchange for participating in the challenge and writing this post, I was given a gift package from Green is Universal. All opinions here are still my own.”

photo credit: London Permaculture via photopin cc

24 Responses to “My Love Hate Relationship With Composting”

  1. I have not yet attempted composting but my mom has a good system in place so I am seriously considering it. For fruit flies put out vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in a small container. The vinegar smell isn’t too strong and it will capture those errant fruit flies.
    nancy b. recently posted..Shoebuy.com – a great local findMy Profile

  2. I never thought I’d be a kitchen composter, but I’ve been doing it for the last year or so. I really have to thank our chickens though, because they need the bugs that eat our scraps, so they were the impetus for my new composting habit 🙂

  3. We have been composting for a while now and in our new home, a huge compost bin was the first thing we built! The fruit flies have always annoyed me. I found them to be really bad this summer. But I will say, the smell isn’t something that I have ever noticed. It is a chore (a fun one) for my son to head out to the compost bin to empty kitchen scraps every day. Maybe it hasn’t stuck around long enough for a smell. I need to try the vinegar and dish soap trick from the commenter above next summer! Can’t wait to hear how your new tools work!

  4. I empty the pail almost every day and wash it. When the fruit flies are the worse I put a small container of apple cider vinegar in the top of the pail (under the cover.)

  5. That’s a great idea Anna. Why didn’t I think of that?!

  6. Good to hear Lauryn. I need to get my kids more involved in the composting process! The smell was definitely from not emptying daily. Easy fix!

  7. That’s a great reason to get started Alicia. I hope my new habit sticks this time. Maybe I need to get chickens?!

  8. Great tip for fruit flies Nancy. That’s exactly what I do. Let me know if you take the composting plunge!

  9. We did the same thing with our pail last winter and it’s still there. I guess I get the task of cleaning it. Here is a way of dealing with fruit flies after the fact: http://www.greenlifestylechanges.com/getting-rid-of-fruit-flies-naturally/
    Jonathan (EcoDad) recently posted..Getting Started HikingMy Profile

  10. I really want to compost, but have found it to be such a pain in the backside, especially when renting! I composted at my place in MPLS, but now that I’m back to renting, it’s hard to do it all. I’ve been focusing on reducing food waste in general and actually eating what I buy! Wish me luck 🙂

  11. I am not sure if they will allow me to compost since I live on someone elses private property

  12. We’ve composted in the past and have enjoyed the same challenges. The old compost spot is now flourishing with native grasses and I now toss stuff begin our our in the groundcover or under trees 🙂 LOL

  13. I’ve never tried composting before. However, I do put fruit/veggie scraps outside…our wildlife takes them away!
    Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? recently posted..How to do the “I Love You” Baby Massage for Gassy TummiesMy Profile

  14. Confession- life has been so busy lately I’ve done a TERRIBLE job composting. I need to get back to it. I really have no good excuses, just out of the habit, tired, and busy.

  15. We use a large plastic bowl from the dollar store – open with no lid – on the counter to collect scraps, works fine even if we forget to empty it for a few days. Since it’s open to the air, it doesn’t smell bad like scraps kept in a container with a lid.
    Christy King recently posted..Minimalists in History: FDRMy Profile

  16. Do you find that fruit flies start to swarm Christy?

  17. If (when) we do get fruit flies, we make sure we DON’T forget to empty it regularly. We also leave out an almost-finished glass of wine to catch any that remain. I think fruit flies are LESS of a problem than when we used to have a container with a lid. Maybe just because having the stuff visible means we’re more likely to dump it regularly as well as to see the fruit flies immediately.

  18. I started kitchen composting about a year ago. I live alone and I don’t empty the container every day or even every week. My container has a filter, so smell has never been a problem even by the time I work up ambition to take it out.

    I don’t have any outside equipment, either: just some piles by the shed where I toss grass clippings, weeds, etc. I turn it over with a pitchfork when I happen to think of it.

    When I take my compost container out, I always bury it. With luck, it won’t be the same place I buried the last batch, but no big deal.

    The vinegar and detergent trick works beautifully with fruit flies.

    I also put the few paper towels and paper napkins I use in the container and other miscellaneous paper scraps too small to recycle. It’s all organic.

    Since I started, I only have enough trash to take to the curb every two or three weeks unless I have ambition for a major project.

  19. Great job David. It sounds as though you’re in a good composting groove. Animals don’t find your compost piles? I think that would be a big issue around here.

  20. I’d have to buy an expensive composting system to be able to compost meat products. If the rabbits want to dig something up and eat it, I won’t begrudge them! I haven’t noticed any suspicious activity. I haven’t noticed any wild carnivores in the neighborhood–or even loose dogs.

  21. […] day in the United States. Food scraps generated by all households in the U.S. could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high. Compost those vegetable scraps and watch your garden […]

  22. […] day in the United States. Food scraps generated by all households in the U.S. could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high. Compost those vegetable scraps and watch your garden […]

  23. I’ve composted for years and I never get fruit fles, despite the fact that I only take my compost out to yhe bin once a week. My trick? I used old breadbags and dtore thecompist in the freezer! No smell, no flies and the added volunme keeps the freezer full which makes it run more efficiently!

  24. […] Composting hasn’t come easily for me. It continues to be a work in progress. I now have all the right equipment- an outdoor compost bin and an indoor compost pail, which is always under the sink. It’s amazing how I’ve reduced the amount of garbage we throw away by composting our kitchen food waste. […]

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I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

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