Ready to expand your composting skills to help others? Here are 5 ways to help family and friends compost at home.
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You’ve got your system for composting at home set up and running smoothly. You’re excited about all of the waste you’ve diverted from the landfill, and you want others to join along in your beloved low-waste habit. But family and friends are reluctant to start composting. For a variety of reasons, you just can’t get them to drink the composting Kool-Aid.
Instead of shaming them for their wasteful habits (hint: it is unlikely to shift their behavior), why not help them get started? Composting at home is a pretty simple habit to maintain once you get going, especially for people who also take out their trash and separate their recycling. It’s simply more of the same. But it admittedly has some challenging barriers to entry.
Due to a lack of education about how to compost, a lack of infrastructure making it systematically easy, and composting being a bit outside the mainstream, many people feel overwhelmed about tackling this new habit on their own. You might be surprised that with just a little effort, however, you can get your friends and family on the composting bandwagon for the long haul.
5 ways to help friends and family compost at home.
Pay for the service
If a composting pick-up service is available in their area, consider paying for the composting service if it’s in your budget. It might seem like a small piece of the puzzle (particularly if the person can afford it) because your family member or friend still has to do the work of collecting food scraps, putting them in the bin, and setting the bin out for pickup according to the collection schedule.
But for some people, adding the expense is a barrier (either financially or mentally). If that’s the case for you, and paying for the service is something you can comfortably afford, it can’t hurt to ask if that might be the thing that gets your friend or family member over the hump of composting on their own.
Our assistant editor, Rupa, paid for a composting pickup service for one of her family members. This particular family member was happy to sort her food scraps and fill the bucket but paying the additional expense for the service was an obstacle.
It was a worthwhile investment for Rupa to help get her family member on board. Not only was she able to help one more person compost at home, but this also helps reduce the taboos around composting more generally as more and more people do the same.
Buy the equipment
Whether the burden is financial or a function of doing research to find the right equipment for their desired composting method, consider helping your friend or family buy the right equipment to compost at home in a way that works for them.
You might buy them an outdoor compost bin (this one is my favorite) and an aerator. Or maybe they just need the countertop food scrap bin that fits their kitchen aesthetic before they’re willing to start composting. If the purchase of the required tools to compost at home is a hurdle, you might be able to help them get past that hurdle by paying for the equipment to help them find what they need if it’s accessible to you.
Do the research
There are so many different ways to compost at home, and oftentimes, one or two options are much better for a particular person or group based on their lifestyle and current circumstances. For someone who is curious about composting but has no idea where to start, helping them do the research might make all the difference. Work with them to find the right composting method, choose the best composting tools, or find the pickup service that’s available in their geographic area.
I’ve helped several family members and friends start their composting systems. I helped my parents find a discounted outdoor compost bin through their municipality. I helped another friend navigate the process of developing a system to make it easy for her to drop her food scraps off at a local collection site. And I consistently answer DMs on Instagram from people asking me what method might work for their particular living situation and how they should get started.
Set up the system
Maybe it’s a physical limitation or maybe it’s a mental burden of overwhelm, but some people might struggle to set up their composting system even though they have no trouble managing it once it gets going. Can you help them set it up and get the momentum started to keep going?
Build the bin. Gather up the food scrap collection supplies. Find a place for the bucket to live. Whatever obstacles are feeling overwhelming to them, help them get past the first step or two and then let them take it from there. My 9-year-old son built our Soil Saver almost entirely on his own. You can do it. I believe in you.
Let them drop scraps in your bin
If you already have a composting system, maybe you can just let them use yours. If you manage your own bin, consider letting family and friends drop their food scraps in your composting pile. If you have a pickup service and often have extra space in your bucket, maybe they can share a bucket with you. If you drop off your scraps at a community collection site, maybe you can drop off their scraps at the same time.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law started composting after I offered to take their scraps and compost the scraps for them. They’re happy to put their food scraps into a 5-gallon bucket regularly and drop it at my house when they stop by. They drop their old bucket and pick up a new one, and repeat the process.
I already manage a full composting system at my house. But managing their own bin didn’t work for their current lifestyle, and they do not have a pickup service in their area. They’ve now integrated composting into their day-to-day kitchen management with ease knowing they don’t have to process the food scraps they create.
Adding their food scraps to my composting system creates next to no additional effort for me, and I get more composting feedstock to increase the output of finished compost amendment for my garden. It’s a win-win that I’m happy to do.
These are just a few ways you might be able to help family and friends start composting at home. It certainly is not an exhaustive list, so get creative to see how you might be able to help others connect the dots, make it more accessible, or help them with that one missing piece that makes composting at home feel out of reach for them.
Got any other ideas? Share them in the comments. And if you already help a family member or friend compost, I’d love to hear how that works for you!
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Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.
You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.