Apr 19, 2022 - News

How to compost at home in Central Ohio

Illustration of a recycling symbol made out of shovels carrying dirt.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

It's Earth Week, a time when many of us are thinking about how to help our planet by living greener.

  • Central Ohio has a plan to reduce our food waste in half by 2030. It's easier than ever to do your part by composting at home, with free drop-off sites and paid curbside services available.

Why it matters: Nearly 1 million pounds of food waste is landfilled in Franklin County every day, according to the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. That's about three-fourths a pound of food per person per day.

  • As our population grows, every person who composts reduces the food waste sent to our landfill, where food lays buried without the oxygen it needs to decompose and releases harmful gasses.

How it works: Composting significantly speeds up the natural process of organic matter breaking down into nutrient-rich fertilizer.

  • A mixture of 70% "browns'' (leaves, paper) and 30% "greens" (food scraps, coffee grounds, weeds) is ideal, kept damp and aerated.
  • In a spacious yard, you can make a compost pile and let nature take care of the rest, but if you're limited on space or worried about odors, a bin or tumbler helps.

Pro tip: Attend a workshop through Franklin Soil & Water Conservation District and receive a $50 rebate to use toward a compost bin or other items.

Yes, but: Residents who don't need fertilizer for their gardens can drop off compostable scraps at free sites in several communities, including Grove City, Hilliard, Upper Arlington, Whitehall, Westerville and soon, Gahanna.

  • Paid services like the Compost Exchange pick up scraps from your home and operate drop-off sites at farmers markets.

Fun fact: If you put yard waste like grass trimmings at the curb for pickup, you're already composting! Area composters turn it into mulch.

What's next: Our food scraps could someday be picked up at the curb for free, too.

  • SWACO is planning a public-private partnership to design, build and operate a regional composting facility that would meet that demand, spokesperson Hanna Greer-Brown tells Axios.
  • Once an agreement is finalized, it could take two years for it to be fully operational.

🌱 Your thoughts on composting

"I cannot recommend (the Compost Exchange) enough. Paper towels, food scraps, coffee grounds — we fill our five-gallon bucket every week."

  • "It's amazing how little trash you generate … it’s practical and green." — Tom W.

"We have had much better success with a rolling bin … you can easily turn it whenever you add anything to it, it has drain holes in the bottom for "compost tea," and when you are ready to dump it, you can just roll the whole container to the location." — Brad W.

"I ditched my two barrel-style composters and switched to the VitaMix FoodCycler (yes, the blender people). Pricy, but it has cranked out more compost concentrate for us in a year than the two barrels ever produced." — David L.

"We purchased a dual container trash bin from simplehuman, where one side was made for recycling, and we use that for composting (at the Grove City drop off)."

  • "We do a fair amount of cooking and are shocked at how much of our trash is now either composted or recycled … We have not noticed a problem with smell." — Don R.

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