Woman pouring a plate full of leftover food in a compost bin

Composting at Home Q&A

Woman pouring a plate full of leftover food in a compost bin

If you feel like you hear about composting everywhere you go, you’re probably not imagining it. Buzzwords like “sustainability” and “composting” are increasing in popularity, but not just as buzzwords—they are practices that are growing around the world. And with good reason! Taking care of our planet isn’t a trend or a fad; it is an important practice that is becoming more ingrained in our everyday lives. It has the power to protect our ecosystem, improve our lives and preserve resources for the future.

One phrase we hear a lot when it comes to sustainability is “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” But how do we practice that? One way to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills is composting. If you’re just getting started composting—or running into issues creating a healthy compost—check out our list of questions below to get the answers you need.

What is composting?

Composting is the process of breaking down waste into useable material to help plants grow.

What elements are needed to create a successful compost?

Elements like oxygen, heat and moisture are crucial to help your compost pile be successful.

What are the different types of composting?

Waste can be composted either at home or commercially. It is important to know what products can be composted where before you begin the process. Home composting can take place in your backyard and refers to the process of naturally breaking down waste with limited elements like moisture, air, and heat. Commercially compostable is the process of breaking down materials with large-scale composting operations in a controlled environment with more rigorous processing. Some products—like Chinet Classic® straws—are commercially compostable which means they require extra resources to decompose efficiently.

Where should I compost?

Composting is most successful when it fits easily within your everyday life. For many people, this involves having a small compost bin in the kitchen to collect scraps as you have them. Then, you can simply transfer the bin outside to your larger compost. Outdoor compost bins should have shelter of some sort to prevent rain and pests from getting in. While you do not need to keep compost in a bin, it is the easiest and tidiest way to maintain it.

Woman pouring a plate full of leftover food in a compost bin

What can be composted?

Food waste including scraps from vegetables and fruit, coffee grounds, stale bread and eggshells make for great compost filler. Non-food products include grass clippings, paper tea bags, dry leaves, and shredded paper/newspaper. For a complete list, click here.

Products that should never be added to your compost pile include meat, dairy, pet waste, grease, glossy paper, and painted wood.

Woman pouring coffee grounds in a compost pin

Are Chinet® brand products compostable?

Chinet Classic® plates and bowls are compostable.

Do I need to cut up my waste before composting it?

You don’t need to cut up Chinet® plates to make them compost. However, it’s fine to cut them into pieces to make them fit better into a smaller compost bin or if it helps with mixing and packing your compost.

Woman cutting a Chinet Classic plate into a compost bin

Should my compost smell?

A slight earthy odor is completely normal. However, if your compost pile is giving off an unpleasant, pungent smell, there could be a problem. Smelly compost can be caused by a few issues. One is the compost pile not getting enough air. Make sure to aerate it to allow it to breathe. The second issue is the compost pile not heating up enough to break down the waste. Make sure the compost has a 4:1 ratio of brown to green material to help it decompose successfully.

When is my compost complete?

On average, waste takes roughly 6 months to decompose. When the compost is no longer creating heat and has returned to a normal temperature, it is completely decomposed. It should be a brown, soil-like material with unrecognizable scraps.

What should I do with my compost?

Compost is best used in your garden or yard. You can use compost as mulch in your vegetables or flower beds or as potting soil. Compost adds nutrients back into the ground and improves the overall health of your soil.