5 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Compost Bin

5 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Compost Bin

Unsure about the best compost bin for your home? Explore our guide for crucial buying tips. Find out how to balance cost, space, and design for your composting needs. Learn more inside.

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When you think of a compost bin, you probably imagine a big outdoor bin of rotting leaves and apple cores. But composting is also a great way to reuse your food scraps, reduce household waste, and keep your home healthier and cleaner.

1. Compost bin types

Compost bins are available in various prices, materials, and sizes. Before you buy one for your home or business, it’s helpful to understand the different features available and how those features might affect your needs:

Plastic compost bins

These bins are typically the most affordable option and are made from recycled plastic. They are lightweight, easy to clean, and can be purchased in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. One advantage of plastic compost bins is that they can be easily moved around the yard or garden. However, they are not as durable as some other materials and may not last as long.

Wood compost bins

Wood compost bins made from cedar, pine, or other types of wood can be purchased in various sizes and styles. Wood compost bins can be more attractive than plastic bins, and they may be more durable and long-lasting. However, they may require more maintenance, such as staining or sealing, to protect against rot and weather damage.

Metal compost bins

Metal compost bins are typically made from galvanized steel or other durable materials. They are strong and long-lasting, and can be purchased in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. One advantage of metal compost bins is that they are resistant to pests and animals. However, they can be more expensive than plastic or wood bins, and they may be prone to rust if not properly maintained.

Tumbler compost bins

These bins are designed to be rotated or “tumbled” to mix and aerate the compost, which can speed up the composting process. They are typically made from plastic or metal, and can be purchased in a variety of sizes. Tumbler compost bins are convenient and easy to use, but they can be more expensive than other types of bins.

Worm compost bins

These bins are designed to house red worms, which eat organic material and produce compost as a byproduct. Worm compost bins are typically small and lightweight, making them easy to move around. They are also easy to use and maintain, but they may not produce as much compost as other types of bins.

They can all vary greatly in size, shape, design, cost, material they’re made from, and accessories such as lids or access doors. They also come with different features that may or may not be important to you.

Here are 5 things to consider when purchasing a compost bin:

2. What’s your budget?

When embarking on your composting journey, the first thing to ponder is your budget. Remember, embracing composting doesn’t have to dent your wallet.

Budget-Friendly Options:

  • DIY Compost Bins: Unleash your creativity with a homemade compost bin. You can craft a cost-effective solution tailored to your needs using materials like old pallets, wire mesh, or even repurposed containers.
  • Simple Bucket System: A straightforward bucket can be a no-cost compost collector, perfect for small-scale composting.

Mid-Range Choices:

  • Basic Compost Bins: These bins offer simplicity and efficiency without breaking the bank, ranging from less than £35 to around £100.
  • Tumbler Compost Systems: A bit more of an investment, tumblers, priced between £100 and £300, provide ease of use and quicker composting, making them a convenient choice.

Premium Selections:

  • Advanced Compost Bins: For those who don’t mind splurging, options upwards of £1000 come with enhanced features like larger capacities and sophisticated designs.

A compost bin, a simple DIY project or a deluxe model can transform your kitchen scraps and garden waste into nutrient-rich compost. This reduces landfill contributions and enriches your garden soil, potentially slashing waste by up to 50%. Plus, it’s a natural way to minimize kitchen odours and contribute positively to the environment.

3. How much space do you have?

Man holding compost
Space is a crucial factor in choosing a suitable composter.

The next thing to consider is how much space you have to store your compost bin. Bins come in many different sizes and shapes, so you’ll likely need to choose a size and shape that will fit into your available space.

The amount of space also affects how often you’ll need to take your compost out and turn it. You may need to consider a vertical composter that takes up much less space if you have very little space. If you have plenty of space, you may want to consider a compost bin that’s larger and/or has more features, such as a tumbler bin or other design that will make turning your compost easier.

Compact Spaces:

  • Vertical Composters: These are ideal for balconies, patios, or small gardens. Their upright design maximises space efficiency.
  • Hanging Bins: Consider a hanging compost bin if you’re really tight on space. These can be attached to walls or railings, saving valuable floor space.

Moderate Spaces:

  • Standard Compost Bins: These bins fit comfortably in most average-sized gardens or yards without taking over.
  • Stackable Bins: A clever choice for slightly more space, allowing for more composting capacity without a larger footprint.

Large Spaces:

  • Tumbler Bins: These larger bins are perfect for spacious gardens. They often come with user-friendly features for easier compost turning.
  • Customizable Bin Systems: For those with ample space, consider larger, customizable systems that can be expanded or adapted over time.

Don’t just think about the bin’s footprint; consider your composting goals too. Aiming for a substantial compost heap for a large garden? Go for a bin with more capacity. But, if you’re composting kitchen scraps for houseplants, a small bin is more than sufficient.

4. Where will the Compost bin be located?

The location of your compost bin is pivotal, not just for convenience but also for its efficiency and longevity. Here’s how to match the compost bin with its location:

Indoor Options:

  • Under-Sink Bins: Compact and sealed to prevent odours, ideal for kitchen waste.
  • Decorative Bins: Stylish options that can blend with your interior decor, suitable for visible areas like the kitchen corner.

Outdoor Choices:

  • Garden Bins: Larger, durable bins designed to withstand the elements, perfect for garden waste.
  • Patio-Friendly Bins: Compact, decorative bins that complement outdoor living spaces.

Material Considerations:

  • Wooden Bins: Aesthetic and natural, great for gardens but require maintenance to prevent rot.
  • Plastic Bins: Versatile and lightweight, suitable for both indoor and outdoor but may degrade under strong sunlight.
  • Stainless Steel Bins: Robust and weather-resistant, ideal for damp outdoor conditions but may not suit indoor aesthetics.
  • Ceramic Bins: Attractive and odour-containing, perfect for indoor use, especially in kitchens.

When deciding, consider how the bin will blend with your environment and the practical aspects of composting in that location, like ease of access and protection from pests.

5. How much capacity do you need?

The next thing to consider is how much of a capacity you need for compost. Most compost bins come in standard sizes, so you’ll likely have to choose a size that meets your compost needs. For example, if you compost only scraps from your kitchen, a compost bin that holds a few gallons would be sufficient.

However, if you compost food scraps from your kitchen, garden, and yard, a compost bin that holds a few gallons would not be enough capacity. You may also want to consider how much you feed your compost. If you have a lot of scraps to add, it’s best to get a larger bin.

Assessing the right capacity for your compost bin is key to a successful composting experience. Here’s how to gauge the perfect size:

Small-Scale Composting:

  • Kitchen Scraps Only: A small bin, holding a few gallons, is perfect for daily kitchen waste. Ideal for apartment dwellers or small families.
  • Countertop Bins: Compact solutions for minimal waste; great for processing coffee grounds, vegetable peels, etc.

Medium to Large-Scale Composting:

  • Garden & Kitchen Waste: If you’re composting from both the kitchen and garden, consider a medium-sized bin, about 10-30 gallons.
  • Community or Large Family Use: For larger households or community gardens, opt for bins over 30 gallons to accommodate more extensive waste.

Advanced Options:

  • Compost Tumblers: These are great for higher volume composting. They make adding new materials and aerating the compost effortless.
  • Multi-Bin Systems: Ideal for continuous composting. As one bin fills, you can start on another, allowing for a constant cycle of decomposition.

Remember, it’s not just about volume; consider how frequently you’ll add to the compost and your willingness to manage larger quantities. Larger bins require more effort but yield greater rewards.

Featured compost bins

ECO-KING recycled green plastic compost bin (2-sizes)

Thermo-King Insulated 400 litre recycled plastic composter

ECO-KING recycled green plastic compost bin (2-sizes)

Essential Features for Your Ideal Compost Bin

Worth remembering, in addition to our five things to consider above, when selecting a compost bin, these key features will be worth adding to the mix, to ensure it meets your specific needs:

Lid Options:

  • Sealed Lids: Ideal for deterring pests and animals, and containing odours. Perfect for outdoor bins.
  • Ventilated Lids: These allow for airflow, crucial for aerobic composting processes.

Design Varieties:

  • Traditional Bins: Simple and efficient, suitable for most gardens.
  • Compost Tumblers: Facilitate easy turning, speeding up the composting process.
  • Indoor Bins: Compact and odour-minimising, designed for kitchen use.

Material Choices:

  • Wood: Aesthetically pleasing but requires maintenance against rot and pests.
  • Plastic: Lightweight, affordable, but less durable under harsh weather.
  • Metal: Durable and rodent-proof, but may rust over time.
  • Ceramic: Elegant for indoor use, but fragile and typically smaller in capacity.

These features can greatly influence the efficiency, maintenance, and overall satisfaction with your compost bin. Choose wisely based on your composting habits and location.

Your Compost Bin Guide: Making an Informed Choice

In conclusion, selecting the right compost bin involves a thoughtful balance of budget, space, location, capacity, and additional features. Whether you opt for a simple kitchen bin, an advanced outdoor tumbler, or even a creative DIY solution, your choice should align with your composting needs and lifestyle.

By considering these key factors, you can make composting an efficient, rewarding, and environmentally friendly practice in your home or community. Remember, the perfect compost bin not only manages waste effectively but also contributes positively to your garden’s health and the broader environment.

Further reading

How to compost – Garden Advice – Westland Garden Health
Home composting is a vital part of a healthy, sustainable garden. It enables you to recycle large amounts of waste that would otherwise end up as in your regular/brown bin that then end up as landfill. Composting creates a natural supply of rich organic matter that can be used to enrich your garden soil in beds, borders and vegetable patches. Once you get going, it’s surprisingly easy.

Composting / RHS Gardening
Home composting is the most environmentally-friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste, plus it produces compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver.

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