5 Creative Ways to Source Materials for your Compost Pile

Sometimes when we want to build a compost pile, we either have a disproportionate amount of greens or browns or, don’t have enough material. What to do?

Here are a few ideas to help augment your composting materials:

  1. Waste diversion is more fun with friends! Post on a community bulletin board such as Nextdoor or a community marketplace such as Craigslist or Freecycle. To let your neighbors know you are looking for compostable materials such as egg cartons, shredded paper, and cardboard or food scraps.
  2. Know someone with a lawn? Ask for their grass clippings which make a great nitrogen additive to your bin! Provide them with a trash can, tarp, or old sheet to help collect the clippings in. 
  3. Find a friend that brews beer that is willing to give you some of their spent barley.  A little barley goes a long way in generating heat in your compost pile. Be sure to mix the grain well with the other materials in your bin to avoid attracting critters. If you don’t know any brewers, try contacting a brewing club or local brewery.
  4. Obtain mulch/wood chips from a tree trimmer. There are multiple ways to do this. One way is to phone a local tree trimmer. Another way is to sign up with getchipdrop.com. Chipdrop matches arborists/trimmers with people who want wood chips which allows the arborists to get rid of their woodchips without having to pay dumping fees. The advantage of Chipdrop over the direct contact method is that you can specify types of wood that you will not accept. Please be aware that these loads can be VERY large, up to 15 cubic yards.  If you see a tree trimmer working in your neighborhood, you can stop and ask them if they are willing to drop off at your home and ask how big they estimate the load will be. The advantage of this method is that you know exactly where the wood is coming from and how big the load will be. We recommend that you line the drop site with a tarp to prevent staining your driveway from any oils that may come from the wood chips.
  5. Ask your favorite business if they have organic materials that they aren’t able to recycle. Solana Center often gets juicing pulp from a local juice bar, and coffee grounds from local coffee shops. The former works well in worm bins, and coffee grounds are an excellent way to bump up the nitrogen in your compost pile.