How to Start a Compost

How to Start a Compost

*This post contains affiliate links. For more information see my disclosures

Composting was something we used to do when I was a kid. Growing up and realizing how much waste we had every month, I started looking for ways to cut back. Living in Minnesota, I wasn’t sure how composting would work for us because our winters are pretty cold. Thankfully I was able to start an indoor compost and after we downsized, I was able to start an outdoor compost. If you are wondering how to start a compost, let me fill you in on both indoor and outdoor composting. I’ll tell you how to build them, how to get them started and how to keep them maintaining and working all year round!

*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures

What you can compost:

-Anything organic
-Paper, cardboard, newspapers
-Lawn clippings and hedge trimmings
-Egg shells
-Coffee filters and grounds, tea bags
-Nut shells
-Paper towels, toilet paper and tampons (WHAT?! Crazy)

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What you can’t compost:

-Animal products
-Animal feces

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Indoor Composting

Indoor composting was my original game plan because I didn’t have the funds to afford to get a good compost started in the backyard. We also didn’t have a convenient way for me to make it out to the compost without going down a flight of stairs. Lazy, I know. Starting an indoor compost is super easy and really affordable, but there is a slight catch.

To have a successful indoor compost, you will be investing in worms! Yup, ya heard, worms. Did you know you can buy worms off the internet? You can also buy feces…but that’s another story. These worms will consume the food and then poop out super nutrient rich poo that is GREAT for fertilizing your garden. After a few months there was enough nutrient-rich soil for me to spread in my garden to help it flourish.

How to start an indoor compost.


*What I used
2 Rubbermade containers
2 Cinder blocks or 4x4s

Getting Started:

Unfortunately I didn’t take photos when I first made my indoor compost, so I don’t have great visual to show you. Here is an awesome video that will show you step by step what you need to do: Worm Composting

I’m a visual person, so learning without visuals is nearly impossible for me. That video will be super helpful in getting you started, but the original site I went to is This site is great and can answer all your questions as well as show you a variety of ways to get started on composting with worms indoors or outdoors.

Plus Sides

-Very inexpensive
-Easy to make
-Can be done indoors
-Great option for garden fertilizer
-Can be done through winter months

Negative Sides

-There’s worms. *This was very stressful for me because as the worms adjust to their environment, they will often crawl out if the breathing holes are too big. They would also frequently be on the lid or the edges of the bin whenever I opened the compost to put food in.
-There can be a smell. We originally had our compost in the basement but quickly moved it to the garage. After a while the smell was less noticeable.
-There is limited space. Having only your rubber made container, you can’t pile as much food in but the worms really do work through the waste quickly.

What you need to get started

composting, how to start a compost pile, indoor composting, outdoor composting, compostOutdoor Composting

Outdoor composting was also a relatively simple procedure. While there are so many cute and very effective ways to build your own outdoor compost, I couldn’t pass up this 65 gallon compost bin when I saw it at the store. It was conveniently placed next to soil and gardening beds. Needless to say, that was an excessive shopping day; and one of those ones where I didn’t think I would need a cart. Whoops.

Setting up this compost was a breeze although our top did blow off and disappear during one of our tougher storms, it has continued to work great and smell has not been an issue. We placed it right in the center of our gardening area too. In hopes that the natural worms would do their work spreading all the nutrients throughout the soil. The one other thing we opted to do when starting our outdoor compost was to get a small temporary compost indoors. This makes it easy for me when I’m cooking to toss all the scraps into one container so I can bring it outside to the larger compost when I have time.

Winter composting is also still possible with an outdoor compost. For those of you who live in climates like I do where there are cold Temperatures and snow, decomposing will simply halt and then continue when the ground begins to thaw.

Outdoor compost options

(You can see the one we have is the least expensive option)

Kitchen compost options

(So cute!)

Getting Started

There is much less work to do getting an outdoor compost started. Unless of course you are building one of your own. In which case, you’ve got your work cut out for you, but it will be totally worth it! Our Redmon Green Culture 65-Gallon Compost Bin took easily less than 20 minutes to set up and it was ready to go! I didn’t add any soil because I had already placed it on open soil to begin with.

Plus Sides

-Minimal effort
-No worms
-No smell
-Maintains through winter
-Optional kitchen compost

Negative Sides

-It’s outdoors (remember those cold winters I mentioned…yeah, sometimes making it to the compost is a no-go.)
-Takes up space in your yard
-May require more intricate building

Why you should start today!

Composting and recycling (one in the same really) cut back on the amount of waste our family put out. Now with a family of 5 we go through one garbage bag a week…that includes all bathroom and laundry room garbage. We could easily go longer without having to toss the bag, but Tom is very adamant about getting the garbage out each week. I truly want this planet to be in the best shape possible for my kids when they are my age. Right now, our earth is in trouble and I try my best to do my part, no matter how small to avoid the amount of things we throw away.

If you are a gardener composting will be extremely beneficial to you. You’ll have the chance to get some richer soil to help your garden flourish. Then, when you’ve got remaining waste to be tossed out, you have a place for it to go. It’s the easiest, most natural recycling system on the planet!

If you guys have any tips or ideas that I didn’t share, please comment below! I would love to get some additional insight on how to start a compost!

About The Author


Renee is the blogger behind The Fun Sized Life. After downsizing with her family, she also took the time to get serious about he finances. Now she is sharing the wealth with all of her readers.