How to Compost at Home in 5 Steps

3 comments by Adam Sarfati
5 Easy Steps to Composting at Home

Why Should I Compost?

If you care about the environment, choosing to compost at home is one of the most impactful decisions you can make.

Approximately 35% of the average household bin is comprised of food waste. Over 5 million tonnes of food end up as landfill... which is enough to fill roughly 9000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. That's a grim place to practise freestyle.

By starting a home compost, you're creating a circular process. This means that the food scraps that would've become landfill are made into something useful instead. 

What is compost?

Composting is a process that speeds up the natural decay of organic material by providing the ideal conditions for detritus-eating organisms to thrive.

The end result is nutrient-rich soil that helps your crops, garden, plants and trees thrive.

The other environmental benefit of composting is that it helps tackle the huge greenhouse gas problem posed by landfills.

Basically, all the trash sent to landfill decomposes and releases methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

So, how exactly do you compost at home? Here are five easy steps to walk you through it.

How to Compost at Home

1. Setting up

Pick a spot in your garden that's dry and shady. Don’t want to buy a compost bin? You can easily use an old bin or large container - you'll just need to drill some holes in it. Add a coarse layer of dry material to the bottom of your bin, like sticks and twigs, to encourage air circulation.

2. Browns or dry matter

These are dry materials that are rich in carbon or carbohydrates. The main job of browns is to be a food source, for all of the lovely soil-dwelling organisms that team up with the microbes to break down the contents of your compost pile. Brown materials also help to add bulk, and allow air to filter through your pile.

  • Ecomailers
  • Leaves, straw
  • Cardboard (remove adhesive first), toilet paper rolls, egg cartons
  • Sawdust, wood ash
  • Paper (newspaper, writing/printing paper, paper plates and napkins, coffee filters)
  • Cotton, dryer lint
  • Our Hex Wrap

3. Greens or wet matter

Greens are materials that are rich in nitrogen or protein. They also tend to heat a compost pile up, because they help the microorganisms in the pile multiply quickly. 

  • Vegetables/fruit scraps 
  • Eggshells
  • Tea leaves/coffee grounds 
  • Grass clippings/twigs and branches/weeds/green leaves
  • Manure (not dog or cat)

4. The correct ratio

We like to aim for a 1:3 ratio of greens to browns in weight, but don't worry about being too precise here. Just make sure you layer your compost well.

Think of it like a delicious lasagne for your garden, where the browns are the filling and the greens are the pasta sheets. Always try to cover your greens with a new layer of browns, and add greens in a nice thin layer so they can easily get in contact with the carbon-rich browns. Diversity is key to a good carbon: nitrogen ratio and a healthy balance of microbes, so don’t be scared to mix up what you put in your bin.

how to make a compost heap5. Airflow and moisture

Remember to turn your compost every 10-14 days to optimise airflow and check for moisture. This is the best time to give your compost a little water if it's starting to get dry. The microorganisms in your compost need oxygen and H2O — but you don’t want to drown them either!

Extra Tips

If you're looking for a really cool and easy method to check your compost and get lots of handy tips we recommend Monty, a brilliant piece of Aussie designed smart tech that brings composting into the 21st century.

Common Questions

Q: Should you put meat and dairy in your compost bin?

A: The simple answer is that you certainly can, but it'll take longer to break down than other organic matter and may make your compost bin a little pongy. If you want to introduce these types of things into your compost then we suggest a Bokashi bin. These are a cheap odourless way to start the breakdown process, and make the perfect kitchen counter bin.

Q: I live in an apartment and don’t have room for a compost bin!

A: Then a Worm farm or Bokashi bin is the perfect alternative. These don’t smell at all, and can break down a whole range of things in a quick and easy manner. We also strongly encourage you to utilise the green bin that's supplied by most councils in Australia. These are a fantastic initiative, allowing everyone to essentially compost their waste whether you have a garden or not!

Q: Can my Ecomailers go in the green bin?

A: You’ll need to check with your local council on this one (unless you live in SA, in which case yes!) as it comes down to each area and the contracts they hold with their respective composting and recycling plants. We're working with local councils to implement statewide allowance, and it’s only a matter of time before this becomes more common than not. By 2025 we envisage every council Australia-wide will allow Ecomailers (with the home compostable standard) to be put in your green bins.

Q: What about worms?

A: While earthworms will naturally find their way into your compost bin (as long as you’ve drilled enough holes or have an open-bottomed compost) it can help to speed up the composting process. But there's no point adding regular old earthworms! You want red wrigglers, which are able to eat half their body weight in food every day and produce something called black gold. No, not oil, but something much more valuable: nutrient-rich soil that'll supercharge your garden and plants better than any store-bought potting mix or fertilizer ever could.

Be Part of the Solution

Composting has numerous benefits for our planet – and if widely adopted could have a profound effect on reducing landfill and help rapidly reduce the climate change risk.

Use the tips in this article to get started and make a difference now. Remember, we don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.



All claims made in HeapsGood Packaging articles are based on peer-reviewed scientific literature, reputable media sources or non-for-profit research. We are dedicated to bringing you the facts on the future of sustainable packaging.

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (2012). Food and Garden Organics Best Practice Collection Manual.

NSW Environment Protection Authority (2019). Organics Infrastructure Fund.

Global Methane Initiative (2010). Estimate global anthropogenic methane emissions by source.


  • Georgia

    Hey Annie, some maggots in your compost is totally fine! In fact, they do a pretty good job of helping to break down your compost. However, if there are a lot, the reason may be because your compost is too wet. Try adding more browns and dry matter (examples in point 2 above) to find a good balance!

  • Annie

    My composting pot has tiny maggots…what should I do?

  • Trina

    Thanks for all the wonderful information!

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