We hear over and over again how great composting is but like most things, there are a few downsides to it. Before you begin your composting journey, here are a few disadvantages to be aware of.
Disadvantages of composting: Compost bins can have foul odors if you don’t regularly turn the contents and promote airflow. They can also attract rodents. While composting is free, you still need to purchase a bin to get started.
What are the challenges of composting?
The ideal area for your compost bin is slightly away from your house but not too far out so as to be annoying to get to. It can be challenging to find the right balance.
A compost bin can have an odor to it, no matter how diligent you are in maintaining it, so you don’t want it too close to your home or anywhere you would sit in your garden.
However, if it is too far away, it can become a hindrance to bringing kitchen scraps out, so you still want it to be accessible.
There can be a bit of a learning curve when it comes to composting. You will want to start with the basics, which includes all the items that can and can’t go into it.
Then, you will want to learn about layering, which includes placing some green items (vegetable peels, coffee grounds) with brown items (old leaves, old plant matter).
In your first few years of composting, there may be unexpected issues, such as pests or smells, that you will then need to figure out. Again, this will take time researching and then time implementing the actions.
Composting works best when everyone is involved with it. If you have a family, be sure to educate everyone on what can and can’t go into the bin.
If you regularly have houseguests over, it may be a good idea to leave a sign-up in the kitchen so they know what can go in the bin instead of you hovering over them.
What are the disadvantages of composting at home
No matter if you decide to use a traditional compost bin in your backyard or a smaller, more compact bin in your kitchen, you will need to spend money on your materials. It is also beneficial to purchase a compost-turner as it is easier than using a shovel.
These costs will pay for themselves eventually but for those who don’t make it a habit of actually using their compost bin, the initial cost won’t be recuperated for a very long time.
You get what you put in
The amount of compost you can use in your garden is directly proportionate to how much material you put in the bin in the first place. Furthermore, as most green waste is water, the actual amount of compost can turn out to be quite small.
Those that have a large garden will need to supplement by purchasing extra compost. And, if only one or two people live in your home, you won’t naturally create a lot of green waste for your compost.
Unfortunately, compost bins can attract a lot of unwanted critters, including rats, snakes, and plenty of bugs. You can try to limit this by not including any oils or meats, but a compost pile can be too tempting for rodents.
If you think this will be an issue for your location, be sure to add a layer of chicken wire under your compost bin so that critters can’t burrow under. During the fall and winter, rodents look for warm places to live and compost bins are one of their favorites.
There are ways to mitigate odors in your compost, mainly by keeping it constantly turned and alternating green and brown items. However, we all have busy lives and we might not be able to remember such upkeep.
Compost can take on an unpleasant smell. If you have a small backyard, this can mean having to keep your compost bin closer to your home, which increases the disadvantage.
As you may have noticed from the above points, the solution to these disadvantages is more work. Aerating your compost should happen almost daily for the best results and this can take both time and energy.
You will also need to transfer your compost to parts of your garden, which is more physical labor. Then there’s the tedious task of bringing kitchen scraps to the bin which can be annoying when it’s cold or wet outside.
If you diligently turn your compost, add smaller pieces, and keep to a strict ratio of green and brown items, you can have compost ready in just a few weeks. As most people have busy lives, the more realistic timeline is a few months.
Keep your expectations low by expecting to put compost into your garden just twice a year.
You will still have food waste
While more and more cities are introducing food waste pickup, along with their garbage and recycling, this may not be an option for you. Unfortunately, food items such as meat, dairy, and oil should not go in your compost bin.
While composting will divert some food away from the landfill, it won’t eliminate all of it. You will still see most of your food waste going into the garbage, which can be disheartening.
Why are so many farmers buying compost instead of making it themselves?
Farmers need a lot of compost so waiting for small bins to finally produce usable compost just isn’t worth it. Even if they do make their own compost, farmers will still need to purchase more to supplement what they have.
There are more and more private companies that will take people’s kitchen scraps to turn into compost, which is then sold to larger-scale operations. Some cities will also take yard waste and turn it into compost, which can then be sold.
While there are some disadvantages to composting, the more you are aware of them, the easier it will be to find solutions to them. Composting can be a rewarding adventure, so do your research and see if it is something you can commit to.