09/18/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Composting Guide: Indoor Or Outdoors, You Can Cut Down On Waste

Whether you plan to compost in your home or outside, composting is the foundation for organic and sustainable gardening. Every day 200 million pounds of trash end up in landfills nationwide, 15% of this waste is from yard and kitchen scraps. Consider how much you can recycle by setting up a backyard compost pile or an in-kitchen compost.

The Sierra Club offers tips to make nutrient rich compost.

* Alternate layers: six inches of brown materials (dry leaves, newspaper), two to four inches of green materials (grass clippings, food scraps), repeated as necessary. Your pile should be at least 3 feet square to generate enough heat, but no higher than 5 feet or the pressure of the materials' weight will push the air needed for decomposition out.

* Bury new food scraps inside the pile periodically to get the maximum microbial action going.

Treehugger encourages readers to put their vegetable waste to use.

Make compost from kitchen scraps
Compost like a champ by throwing in your vegetable waste, instead of allowing it to be trucked off to the landfill. Known as "gardener's gold," compost enriches soil fertility by giving it a shot of high-powered, plant-loving nutrients. Aside from stimulating healthy root development, the addition of rich and earthy compost also improves soil texture, aeration, and water retention. Why waste your hard-earned cash on commercial products when the real deal is free for the taking?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, compost improves soil's physical, chemical and biological properties.

* Compost has the ability to help regenerate poor soils.
* The compost process degrades and, in some cases, completely eliminates wood preservatives, pesticides, and both chlorinated and nonchlorinated hydrocarbons in contaminated soils.
* Using compost can reduce the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
* Composting also extends municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from landfills and provides a less costly alternative to conventional methods of cleaning contaminated soil.

Search for a composting center near you, courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Create your own outdoor compost spinner or make a compost bin compost bin from items that you may already own.

Here is a list of compostable items such as coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, cereal and even food-soiled cardboard.


::Blogger Maura Judkis offers 9 ways to cut down on food waste from the Huffington Post.
::Watch the Sierra Club's How to Compost video.
::More on Green Living from the Huffington Post.