Teaching Kids How To Compost
Want to make some small changes to help the environment but not sure where to start? Composting is a great way to reduce your family’s carbon footprint and teach your kids some important life lessons.
Why Compost?Here are a few great reasons to get into composting with your kids:
- It’s great for our planet: Our food waste can’t decompose properly in landfills where oxygen can’t circulate. As it breaks down, it creates a harmful greenhouse gas called methane that contributes to climate change and pollutes our groundwater. Research shows that composting at home for one year can save global-warming gases equivalent to the CO2 a washing machine produces in three months!
- It produces free fertilizer: Once you’ve bought your compost bin, composting is free and provides you with nutrient-rich, chemical-free fertilizer for your plants.
- It’s educational: It teaches kids how to reduce waste and care for our planet, it introduces them to science as they learn about decomposition, and it teaches them to be patient as they wait for the slow process to unfold.
An Easy Composting Activity For KidsIf you want to gauge your children’s interest in composting before setting up a full-size bin, get them to make their own micro composters. What you’ll need:
- 1 wide-mouth glass jar with lid per child
- Food scraps (fruit and vegetable peels, meat-free leftovers, teabags, coffee grounds)
- Dry leaves
- Spray bottle filled with rainwater
Starting A Backyard Compost BinReady for the real deal? Here’s how to start a full-size compost in your backyard. What you’ll need:
- A compost bin
- Green material: Fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, teabags, fresh grass clippings, fresh garden trimmings, dead houseplants and livestock manure
- Brown material: Dry leaves, brown garden debris (dried plants, vines and stalks), Christmas trees, straw, twigs and pine needles
- A compost aerator or garden fork
- Meat and fish (you can compost them, but they may attract critters)
- House pet manure
- Colored paper
- Inorganic materials
- Synthetic chemicals
5 Steps to Making Great Compost
1: Buy a Compost BinYou’ll find a wide range of compost bins and compost tumblers in a variety of materials at your local garden center. Talk to a salesperson to determine the best bin for your family’s needs.
2: Choose the Best SpotPlace your bin in a spot that’s easily accessible for your family, sunny (but not in direct sunlight all day), level and well-drained. It should be placed on bare soil to allow worms and other beneficial organisms to get in. Turn the soil beforehand for best results.
3: Prepare your Compost Bin and Add MaterialGet your kids involved in the compost bin preparation so they understand how it works:
- Start by placing four to six inches of twigs and dead plant stalks in the bottom of your bin to help with drainage and aeration
- Add a layer of dead leaves
- Add a thick layer of food scraps and fresh grass clippings or fresh garden trimmings
- Add one inch of healthy soil or finished compost
- Add water until your materials are damp but not too wet