Action: Start a composter for your green waste

Compost your green waste

Good compost is used to boost the nutrients in soil and this helps your plants to grow. This could be in your vegetable garden, to help your flower beds, or in pots and window boxes.

You can buy compost from garden centres of course, but it is much better for the planet to make your own, and the good thing is you already have the ingredients … because it is made up from waste, air and water!

Making your own compost


Composting is the most environmentally friendly way to deal with kitchen and garden waste. To make your own compost you need to combine ‘Soft-Green’ and ‘Woody-Brown’ materials and allow micro-organisms and invertebrates to work their magic on it.

Examples of Soft-Green materials are …

  • Grass clippings
  • Vegetable peelings and waste
  • Farmyard manure or pet bedding
  • Coffee grounds and tea leaves
  • Annual weeds

… and examples of Woody-Brown materials are …

  • Prunings
  • Wood chippings
  • Newspaper or shredded paper
  • Cardboard
  • Dead Leaves

.. and some things NOT to add to your composter are …

  • Cooked food, meat, fish or bones
  • Cat litter
  • Dog, cat or human poo
  • Glossy paper or cardboard
  • Weed roots or seed heads
  • Citrus fruits
  • Onion and onion peel
  • Tea bags (they contain plastic)
  • Eggshells (unless broken up finely)

The green and brown need to be combined, without letting any one material dominate. The Soft-Green materials should make up around one-third to one-half of the total. Most people make compost in a compost bin because it keeps everything tidy, but you can just pile it up and cover with old carpet or a tarpaulin.

Compost bins can be made from old pallets, or you can buy wooden or plastic options. Your compost bin needs to be in a shady corner of the garden or yard, where it will stay moist and be out of sight.

The key things are to make sure that it doesn’t get too hot, or too cold, and not too wet or too dry, because you need to keep those micro-organisms happy! Worms are an important part of making compost… and when you add the compost to your garden they’ll get to work improving the soil structure and spreading the nutrients.

How does this help?

If you make your own compost, this will be helping the environment in many ways.

  • You’ll be recycling your green waste into something that helps plants grow
  • Good compost reduces the need for adding chemical fertilisers
  • It reduces the amount of waste going to landfill and means less bin lorry journeys
  • Some composts you buy include peat, which we should try to avoid using
  • Many of the minibeasts who live in the compost are part of the garden food chain, so you’ll boost the food available for birds, hedgehogs, frogs and toads.

How long does it take?

After the first few months, you need to turn and mix your compost regularly to allow air to get through it, remembering to add water in dry weather. This is also useful because as you add more material to it you can mix it in. Be careful though because animals may hibernate in a compost heap in winter!

Compost will take about nine months to two years to be usable, depending on the ingredients. You’ll know when it is ready because it will smell like damp woodland and look like dark crumbly soil.

Take action

You can learn more about composting, including lots of technical stuff, at

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