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Exploring the Different Methods of Composting: Which One is Right for You?

Composting is surprisingly easy to implement in the classroom and household, but it can be made a lot easier by choosing the correct type of composting for your space! Like making a batch of your favorite chocolate chip cookies, everyone seems to have their favorite way to compost. In this short article, discover a few of the ways you can compost at home, at work, or in a garden space.


Traditional wooden compost bin

Aerobic Composting Techniques (Using Oxygen)

Aerobic composting is the type of composting that people are most familiar with. It requires the incorporation of oxygen, which the microorganisms then use to break down the waste. Oxygen is usually incorporated by turning the compost. Some examples of aerobic composting methods include windrow composting, in-vessel composting, and aerated static pile composting.

  • Windrow composting creates large amounts of compost with long rows of piles that are aerated.

  • In-vessel composting takes up a smaller amount of space by using a container that is turned or mixed to aerate.

  • Aerated static pile composting involves mixing materials into a large pile with wood chips or other bulking materials in.


Anaerobic Composting in Waste Management

In anaerobic composting, the compost is purposefully deprived of oxygen so anaerobic microorganisms can grow. This method is less popular because it can often produce more odor, it doesn’t remove pathogens, and it takes much longer than aerobic composting. When it is used, it is usually in large amounts for waste management or energy generation. One upside to this method is that it is very easy to implement. It can be as simple as a pile of compostable material with water added and a tarp over the top. It can also be in a bin or bag as long as there is little oxygen being let out!

 

Person wearing yellow gloves holding handful of soil and worms

The Wiggly World of Vermicomposting

This composting method produces compost using worms! It produces a smaller amount of compost, so it is commonly used in households, classrooms, and other small-scale areas. Compostable materials are placed into a bin with strips of paper and worms to start a worm bin. As the worms eat the material, their 'manure' is what makes the resulting soil nutrient-dense and extremely healthy for plants, especially as the worms improve the soil structure, provide good bacteria, and add nutrients to the soil. Vermicompost is commonly mixed with regular soil for plants as it is made in small quantities. While it is relatively easy, some factors must be considered when starting vermicomposting. Meat, dairy, oils, and cooked foods will take much longer for worms to process than plants, so they could generate a smell and/or attract bugs. The worms are living animals, so the conditions of the bin have to be more closely monitored than other composting methods. 


Food scraps and bucket on top of traditional compost pile

Get Started Composting

Factors like expense, effort, odor, and the materials you are going to compost all vary across the methods of composting. When choosing a form of compost, it is important to consider the type that will fit best into your space. If you are looking to compost in a classroom, learn how Let's Go Compost empowers teachers and the next generation of sustainability enthusiasts through our STEAM Classroom Composting Program. Or, join us at our upcoming, free in-person and virtual composting workshops!

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