If you cook at home, chances are you’ve got plenty of food scraps, like the tops of zucchinis, banana peels, apple cores, kale stems or even the woody ends of asparagus. And chances are, right now those scraps are going right into the trash. But what if there was a better way to reuse them? Well, there is. You can start composting those food scraps (and yard waste too) to create nutrient-rich soil that you can use in your garden or with your houseplants.
Composting is an easy and eco-friendly way to create your own nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), composting is a great method for improving soil, improving water retention in the soil and can support the next generation of crops and plants. There are a lot of benefits that can come from composting, on a small scale or large scale, but it can be hard to know where to start sometimes.
We pulled together a list of nine budget-friendly compost bins of all varieties to get you started. Some bins are small enough to fit on your kitchen counter and some are large enough to hold gallons and gallons of waste that can be built in your yard. So if you’re ready to start reusing your food waste and putting your gardening tools to better use, here’s our list of compost bins from Amazon, Target and Walmart that can all be ordered online and shipped directly to your home so that you can get started.
Best Cheap Compost Bins
Stylish Farmhouse Kitchen Compost Bin at Amazon.com
What You Get: This kitchen compost bin is sleek, stylish and designed to fit into any farmhouse-style kitchen. Made out of alloy steel, this bin is rust-proof and gives off virtually no smell thanks to built-in charcoal filters that naturally filter any air leaving the bin. This is a great addition to any modern kitchen and a handy way to reuse your food scraps.
Why We Like It: The modern look of this bin means it will fit nicely in any kitchen and with a 1.3-gallon capacity it’s not too big and not too small either.
Positive Review: “Not only does this one not produce a smell, nor attract fruit flies, it is also super cute! In addition to its stylish look, it also holds a lot of compost!” – Nora
The Cost: $31.99 at Amazon.com
VIVOSUN Outdoor Tumbling Composter at Amazon.com
What You Get: This heavy-duty compost bin can hold up to 43 gallons of compost and is divided into two compartments so you can work with two separate compost piles at once. Also, since this bin is designed to rotate on an axis, you can turn your compost pile without having to directly put your hands into the bin.
Why We Like It: The tumbling design and separate chambers mean that you can give extra care to each individual compost pile and turn both of them with ease.
Positive Review: “The composter was easy to assemble (two people are needed, a single person may struggle at the end of the assembly) and it was put to work as soon as it was received. Turning the compost has never been easier, and as a result, I haven’t had any issues with smelly compost as I did when I was using a different system.” – Ileana
The Cost: $99.49 at Amazon.com
BelleMark Kitchen Compost Bin at Amazon.com
What You Get: Featuring a 1.6-gallon bin (which is slightly bigger than most common kitchen compost bins) and a smell-proof and rust-proof lid, this compost bin sits inside a beautiful acacia wood box to help it blend in with your other kitchen tools. Best of all, it’s easy to empty and clean in between uses.
Why We Like It: The rectangular acacia box is a unique design choice and stands out against so many other kitchen compost bins that typically are round and made of steel.
Positive Review: “We love the fact that this doesn’t look like the traditional “mini trash can” bin. It blends in well with our decor. The opening is wide, which is nice when trying to scrape out bulky containers.” – Sandra
The Cost: $54.99 at Amazon.com
Miracle-Gro Small Composter at Amazon.com
What You Get: This small compact compost bin is great for small backyards or for people new to composting. It’s made entirely out of recycled plastics and is very slim at just 17 inches wide and can hold a total of 18.5 gallons. It is also built to rotate which can make turning the compost even easier.
Why We Like It: Not only is this small composter easy to use but it is specifically advertised for beginners. So no matter your skill level, you will be able to manage this compost bin.
Positive Review: “This composter was easy to assemble, and turned out very sturdy. I use it every day, and it is so much easier to turn the compost than shoveling it over in a pile.” – TwoLeftFeet
The Cost: $69.90 at Amazon.com
Full Circle Fresh Air Kitchen Compost Collector at Target.com
What You Get: This small, no-frills kitchen composter is perfect for anyone on a budget who wants to start making good use of their food scraps. This bin holds 1.5 gallons and is made entirely out of recycled plastics and partially recycled steel and features an easy-push top button to open and close the bin.
Why We Like It: The simple design and color means it can go just about anywhere and at the low cost of $30 (maybe even less if you can catch it on sale) it’s a perfect starter kitchen composter.
Positive Review: “This is my second one of these, and the design is so easy to use and keeps all odor trapped. I definitely recommend this!” – Carolinah
The Cost: $28.49 at Target.com (back in stock soon)
Good Ideas Compost Wizard Jr at Target.com
What You Get: If you’re looking for a backyard compost bin that doesn’t take up too much space — and isn’t too visible either — then this might be the perfect backyard bin for you. It sits very low to the ground and its cylindrical shape means you can spin it on its base to turn the compost. Best of all, it’s packaged almost fully assembled so there is very little assembly needed after you take it out of the box.
Why We Like It: The spin-off lid and wide 12-inch opening means you have plenty of room to toss in your compostables and can tighten the lid to prevent the local critters from getting in too.
Positive Review: “We have two of this model, we like it so much. Keeps out critters, and is relatively easy to turn. We’ve gotten many batches of good black compost out of it.” – Heidi
The Cost: $159.99 at Target.com
Greenes Fence Cedar Wood Composter at Walmart.com
What You Get: This environmentally friendly compost bin is made out of cedar wood and comes with everything you’ll need to assemble it in your backyard. Its simple design makes it easy to rake the pile and effectively maintain your compost. You can also purchase add-on kits that allow you to expand the size and customize your compost piles as you like.
Why We Like It: This simple wood look is very attractive and provides for true open-air composting that most enclosed plastic bins do not.
Positive Review: “These well-made compost bins are a good value. The pieces fit together easily and the resulting structure is both attractive and functional.” – Maria
The Cost: $151.99 at Walmart.com
Large Garden Composter Bin at Walmart.com
What You Get: This large compost bin can hold 110 gallons and features a large open top to add your scraps to the pile. This bin also features a convenient door at the bottom of the bin to easily remove enriched compost. There is also an option to buy an additional add-on that can add even more storage space to your compost pile.
Why We Like It: It’s very easy to assemble and provides really good air flow. The wide top opening is great for emptying large bags of yard waste with ease.
Positive Review: “This compost bin is a bargain relative to other compost bins I priced. It is large (in compost bins, bigger is better), easy to load and unload, and easy to assemble.” – hdth
The Cost: $129.90 at Walmart.com (back in stock soon)
80-Gallon Garden Compost Bin at Amazon.com
What You Get: This bin can hold up to 80 gallons and is designed to be built easily without needing any additional tools. It has a large top opening as well as a lower door to collect compost. This strong bin has four built-in air vents and even comes with ground spikes to help secure the bin to the ground.
Why We Like It: Thanks to the design of this bin, it boasts a shorter window for compost processing time — four to six weeks — and it can be even faster during very warm weather.
Positive Review: “This compost bin looks amazing. It’s really easy to assemble and it’s sturdy. It comes in a flat box and takes about three mins to put together.” – Richie V.
The Cost: $89.99 at Amazon.com
So How Does a Compost Bin Work Anyway?
The great thing about composting is that it is a naturally occurring process so you don’t need any special tools or starter chemicals to begin the process besides the actual compost bin. The only thing you need to get started are organic materials like food scraps and yard waste like leaves and grass clippings. Microorganisms then begin to break down and degrade the food scraps. Over time, all of this work heats up your compost pile and works to further breakdown other organic material like leaves and garden clippings. The end result is a nutrient-rich material that can be mixed with your garden soil to feed your plants.
How to Get Started With Composting
Before you purchase your compost bin, consider the size that you will need. If you are just looking to compost a small amount of kitchen waste, you can easily find a kitchen counter-top bin that can hold just over one gallon of materials. However, as your scraps start to break down, you will want a bin that actively works to keep the smells away with either a tight seal or air filters.
Consider how much scrap you will likely generate in a month and choose a size appropriate for you and your family’s needs.
Larger bins can be set out in the backyard and many are designed to blend in and not take up too much space so they will look great next to your outdoor storage shed. If you have a larger compost bin, you can always add your kitchen waste directly from your countertop compost bin. The important thing to keep in mind about composting is to make sure that you occasionally turn or rake the compost to help aerate it. This is also why some of the outdoor models allow you to easily tumble your compost.
A compost pile will naturally heat up as the scraps degrade and turning the compost allows for a lot of the trapped heat to escape and helps oxygenate the pile. If left unturned, the pile might heat up enough to kill some of the microorganisms and greatly slow the process.
Ultimately, the choice of compost bin is up to you and there is a lot of research and studies online that explore the best techniques (like temperature management and seasonal use) for optimizing and reducing the window of time you will spend composting.
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