Last Updated on August 25, 2022
When I went zero waste, composting was the number one thing that helped me cut down on how much I was tossing out every week.
The food scraps you create in the kitchen (think carrot tops, egg shells, coffee grounds) really add up. And they’re not garbage – they can be recycled into beautiful compost which is so much better than sending them to a landfill.
Food scraps don’t break down in a landfill. Instead, they produce methane gas, which is 30x more potent than carbon dioxide.
Anyone can compost – even if you live in an apartment or have limited space. I highly recommend investing in countertop compost bins, because you can just add your food scraps to it as you cook throughout the week.
At the end of the week, you can dump your bits and ends at your local food scrap drop off location. Typically, farmers markets, community gardens and local farms will be happy to accept this. You can also make your own compost bin too.
Here are the best countertop compost bins that’ll make composting your food scraps a breeze.
what can I use as a countertop compost bin?
If you’re on a budget or just starting out, you can use any sealable container as a countertop compost bin. Plastic takeout containers (like the kind wonton soup come in), coffee containers, ice cream containers, and metal tins are all great options.
Before you start using an impromptu countertop compost bin, make sure to wash it out really good first. Especially if there was oil, meat or dairy inside of it at any point, as these are much harder to compost.
Keep in mind, these aren’t meant for long term use. When you’re ready, you can switch over to a countertop compost bin like the ones I’ll be discussing in this article.
do countertop compost bins smell?
Countertop compost bins smell only if they’re done incorrectly, aka not sealed properly.
Most countertop compost bins sold online (which I’ll be discussing later in this post) have a built-in compartment at the top for a charcoal filter that helps curb odor. You must replace the filters every three to six months, otherwise you may start to smell the compost inside the pail.
A good way to prevent smell, especially if you’re using an impromptu countertop compost bin, is to put it in the freezer or fridge when you’re done adding to it.
When I first started composting, I was using a plastic takeout container and put it in the back of my fridge so it wouldn’t get smelly – and this worked great for me.
does a kitchen compost bin need air holes?
Yes, kitchen compost bins need air holes to help the composting material “breathe” so to speak. The bacteria in charge of breaking the food scraps down need oxygen to get the job done.
Without holes, compost can heat up quickly due to excessive gas production.
However, having air holes doesn’t necessarily mean you have to smell the rotting food inside it. Many compost pails that have air holes also have charcoal filters – this allows air to vent through the pail, without you having to smell any odors.
If you’re making a DIY countertop compost pail, you should consider buying a pack of charcoal filters to attach to your compost container lid. Especially if you plan on using it long term, rather than a quick fix.
Personally, when I was using the plastic takeout container for my food scraps, I didn’t poke any holes or attach charcoal filters simply because I was keeping it in the fridge half the time.
what should you not compost?
There are several items you should not compost, especially meat, oils, and dairy items (like milk, cheese, etc.).
While meat and dairy would absolutely break down under the right circumstances, it would also attract unwanted pests to your compost heap. Oils and greasy foods aren’t compostable either, as critters tend to be attracted to the smell of this as well.
If you have the room, here’s more information regarding how to compost in a backyard. However, if you take your scraps to a drop off center, always abide by what they do and don’t allow. For example, many places won’t be able to process compostable plastics, unless you have access to industrial composting facilities.
For a full list on what you can and cannot compost, be sure to check out my blog post Composting 101 (125+ Household Items You Can Compost).
what’s the best countertop composter?
I’ve listed the best countertop composter options below that get the Going Zero Waste seal of approval. Even if you have limited countertop space, there’s something for everyone.
Some of these bins are made from recycled content, whereas others are made from natural materials. A few bins are compatible with compostable bags, whereas others don’t require them for easy cleanup.
I’ve gone ahead and highlighted some key features of each brand, but it isn’t an exhaustive list. Be sure to check out their websites for more information.
What do you think of these countertop compost bins? Which would you try? Let me know in the comments.