Placing empty bottles and old newspapers into the recycling bin is an automatic reflex for many people. But somewhat of an air of mystery still remains around the act of composting. Frequently asked questions include: Will saving food scraps make my house or yard smell? (No, as long as you manage it properly.) What exactly can be composted? (Nearly anything that grows.) What are my options if I live in an apartment? (Worm farms.)

While composting is not quite as easy as tossing a soda can into a bin, it’s not hard to learn—and the benefits to the environment are numerous. Get the skinny on how to compost with these resources:


Compost Bin

Better Homes and Gardens and The Kitchn both offer great starter guides with lots of photos.


Worm Bin

Living in tight quarters poses unique challenges for those who want to compost, but a worm composting bin is a great alternative that you can keep under the kitchen sink. Find out more on our worm composting page.


Chicken Bone

What to do with meat and dairy scraps? Meaty bones and cheese scraps don’t bode especially well for composting worms, so you may want to try Bokashi, a blend of composting microorganisms that thrive on meat and dairy.


compostable utensils

Don’t be confused by compostable utensils: they don’t belong in plastic recycling or backyard compost piles. Only place them in commercial compost bins, so they can fully break down. Find out more.


bioplastic

Don’t put bioplastics in your backyard pile. Commercial facilities are better at composting tough materials because they can reach higher temperatures. That’s why meats and bioplastics are accepted in commercial composting bins. Watch this video to learn more.


white glue

Elmer’s Glue and fingernail clippings are just two of the 71 Surprising Things That You Can Compost list at NationSwell.com.


Coffee Cup

Just because it’s made of paper doesn’t mean it automatically goes in the compost. It’s better to recycle paper than to compost it, so recycle what you can first. Color paper and glossy paper may deposit toxic heavy metals into your compost, so always avoid those. Also, some to-go style products have a thin plastic coating which can be bad news for compost bins. Learn more about microplastics in compost.


And a few more tips: