Non-Gross Composting

The idea of composting has always creeped me out. As a general rule I try to keep my contact with rotting food to a minimum.

All of that changed, however, at a community composting class.


When the instructor passed around a ziploc container of a dark rich substance with the color and texture of coffee grounds, I fell in love.  That stuff looked rich and nourishing and so...non-gross. Was it really possible to turn kitchen scraps and yard waste into that?

The instructor then discussed different types of composting.  Liquid stuff, no. Worms, oh hell no. But then he mentioned the “bucket in the ground” method. Cut a hole in a 5-gallon bucket, bury it in the ground, remove the lid on occasion to add scraps, and then when it’s full, let it sit for a few months.

What an ingenious, non-smelly, non-creepy way to compost!

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…

The next step was to figure out the kitchen end of things.  We managed to find an attractive composting bin with an airtight lid and charcoal filter in the top.  To this date, there has never been a single smell.


I also wasn’t big on the idea of scraping out scraps from the compost bin into the bucket in the ground. Gag.  But, thanks to the miracle of the internet, we found compostable bags that hold the scraps (and the moisture) perfectly, keeping the kitchen counter bin squeaky clean.  Just lift out the bag, carry it out to the compost bucket, and throw it in.


Like most folks, I don’t have an abundance of free time, so I dug the holes for the bins near my car.  This way I can just throw the scrap bag in there on my way to work. No extra effort required.


A few added bonuses to composting:

  • There’s something extremely therapeutic on a bad day to throw the bag in and yell “Rot, you #*#&!””

  • Now when we find some old neglected leftovers in the fridge we no longer have to feel too bad about it.  We used to agonize over the waste. And, while it’s still not ideal, it does sound so much nicer when my partner just calmly says  “do you think we should recycle this?”

Some great composting resources:

BernCo Master Composters

There are lots of great resources out there on what you can and can’t compost.  One list even mentioned that you can’t compost road-kill. Good to know.

Greens and Browns

I’d also recommend that you get a food-safe 5 gallon bucket.  You can find them at Lowe’s for just a few dollars more than the regular 5 gallon buckets.

Cutting the bottom off can easily be done with a multi-purpose oscillating tool.  Local friends, I’m happy to cut the bottom out for you. It takes about 30 seconds.