DIY Kitchen Composting Bin: For The Karma Of The Thing

Back when I was a wee baby, taking my first college steps, I told myself that it was okay to sometimes drink gin and often smoke menthol cigarettes as long as I remained a vegetarian. You know, kind of like Christmas for little kids: “Please please please, I will feed Benji everyday for the rest of my life if I can just have that Furby!”

With grad school looming on the horizon, my drinking and smoking “habits” are beginning to seem more like “lifestyle choices.” So, in an attempt to restore balance — as a good Libra would — I have decided to take up composting.

Composting is really rad for the environment and you’ll have nice fertilizer for herbs and other small plants. It’s a great alternative to the store-bought, chemically infused junk. Using composted materials improves plant growth and nutrient intake!

Now, I live in a small house with my twin sister and my best dude friend and a dog and a cat and a miniature pig. What I’m saying is: we ain’t got room for nothing — plus: I spend a good majority of time pig-proofing the place. Thus I needed a small, odorless kitchen bin so as not attract cloven hoofed creatures. On top of all that, I’m usually flat broke, so I needed something cheap.

For those of you in similar situations: I have solved the problems of cost-effective, animal-proof, kitchen composting. Here is a photo of the materials I used.

You Will Need:

Container with a lid — Keep in mind it’s cheapest if you use what you’ve got around the house. I had an empty Folgers canister; others will have kitty litter tubs, Tupperware, etc, and those work fine too.
Charcoal filter — This traps odors. I used fish tank filters, but litter box filters are usually under five bucks and work great, too. If you do use a litter box filter, you’ll probably need scissors to trim excess.
Filter-securing plan — hot glue gun, super glue, wood glue, etc.
Hole-making plan — I used a drill with a ¼ bit piece, but you can always use a hammer and nail to punch holes in the lid.

After you’ve got your gear, you’ll want to begin by punching holes in the lid.

Next, you’ll take your filter and glue it into the underside of the lid, right over the holes. If you’re using fish tank filters like I did you’ll want to glue the packs together before you glue them into the lid so as to prevent gaps. If you’re using a litter filter, just trim the filter to fit snugly into the lid.

Let it dry.

And, boom! If you’re 5’4″ with short brown hair, your finished product will look like this!

Making a kitchen compost pail is quick and easy, so really, if you’re an environment loving queer you have no excuses not to DIY the shit out of this project. If you’re interested in making larger bins, go here to get started.

Don’t forget this trick of the trade: making compost requires oxygenation and celebration. So, about once a week you’ll wanna get that bad boy out and do a little victory dance. Shaking up the contents helps with aeration—the secret to good composting. And finally, here’s a learn what you can and cannot put in the bin. You’ll need to balance your carbon and nitrogen levels so it’s important to layer your kitchen bin properly.

Have any of you done this project before? Any tips, tricks, ideas for others interested in making their own garden magic?


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various l words, writer, ukulele player, NOLA lover, all around adventure queen.

Elysia has written 1 article for us.


  1. I’ve been wondering if there’s any way to compost in an apartment without attracting fruit flies. We do it at my parents house but in a much simpler way than this, we have a bin in the kitchen that we throw things in and then we just dump it in a heap at the bottom of the garden. If I did compost Im not sure what I’d even use it for, without a garden.

    • re: the fruit flies — i don’t compost yet, but i do have a fruit fly problem in general, and i use a fruit fly trap with great success. also, since it seems like Elysia’s method can be sealed almost airtight and has a filter, i doubt the fruit flies would care much about it.

      i’d like to echo your second point though — i really want to compost because i feel bad throwing out all my food waste and since i’m vegan i could compost almost all of it, but i don’t have a backyard or a garden and very few houseplants. is there a useful thing i could do with my compost that i’m missing?

      • If you have a community garden near you, you could take it there when it’s good to go. Then, coz you are contributing, you can totally pick a few sprigs of basil the next time you are making pasta.
        I love community gardens. Coz I suck at gardening. Apparently you need to water those plant things to make them stay green.

        • Hurray community gardens!

          Another option is to keep your compost in a plastic bag/container in the freezer and bring it to a friend’s compost pile when it’s full. No fruit flies and it doesn’t smell when it’s frozen!

      • Effective fruit fly trap? Please, oh please oh please, do elaborate on this! I swear I’ve tried all non-chemical remedies for getting rid of my little buggers, which have put a temporary halt to my composting.

        • I usually cut a plastic bottle in half, invert the top, then put something sugary and something fruity-but-deadly like lemon scented kitchen spray into it, seems to work pretty well.

        • My best friend battled fruit flies by putting out glasses with a little red wine and sugar mixed in the bottom. The fruit flies would get all tipsy and die. Wash out glasses, repeat. She swears it works like poison but you get the bonus of an excuse to buy more wine.

        • As recently as last week we had a MAJOR fruit fly infestation – walking through kitchen was more or less like swimming through a sea of small critters, and they were all gone in just a few days!

          Put a bit of apple cider vinegar in the bottom of a glass, and the have some sort of funnel (can be paper) that will let the flies in. BUT make sure they can’t get out from around the rims, so some tape might be in order. Make a few of those, put them in your problem areas, and then periodically check on your mass graveyards of flies. PROBLEM SOLVED!

        • Step 1: take a jar lid or other similarly shallow liquid-holding thing. (Or use a cup and just fill it shallow-ly.)
          Step 2: fill it halfway with apple cider vinegar. (Or less if you’re using a cup.)
          Step 3: add a drop of dish soap.
          Step 4: wait.

          The dish soap diminishes the surface tension of the liquid, which makes it so the little buggers CANNOT ESCAAAPE

          • I do this and it WORKS. Every time. It’s cheap and easy and it really works. Fruit flies are so annoying!

      • I have these adorable old people as neighbors who have a giant “victory” garden. I just take my compost to them and they give me cookies. It works out.

  2. This looks like a great way to store compostable stuff to take out to the compost garbage bin. But is it really odorless?

  3. Love composting! There’s little to go in landfills, if you recycle paper and plastics. But Elysia, you’ve a Pig!
    And pig poo is the best fertilizer! That’ll get you big melons!
    We want pictures of this pet!

    • Okay the 12 year old boy in me is now imagining people using pig manure in an attempt to get larger boobs.

  4. i want to compost SO BAD. i finally have a very usable backyard space and i’m so excited to start a garden. the only problem is that i don’t know how to start a garden or what month is best for phoenix or what plants complement each other. is it true that lavender keeps flies away?

    megan puts her pulp from the juicer directly into the dirt back there and supposedly it attracts the best most amazing caterpillars. !!!

    i also demand pictures of this mini pig. please.

  5. I dig the charcoal filter idea, but I’m a bit confused. What happens when that bin is full? In my house it’d be full within a day or two. Do you have a compost heap outside that you empty the bucket into?
    Cos to get it to do it’s proper composting thang, it needs to be in a compost pile that’s around a meter by a meter, or bigger.

    • I give my compost to my neighbors and friends with gardens. I also have a friend with a worm farm so he comes and picks it up as well.

  6. I live in a small apartment, so my composting solution is a worm farm. It lives on my balcony, doesn’t smell at all, and the worms eat all my food scraps :) It’s really easy, and didn’t cost much to set up.

    • I was just going to suggest using a wormery! It’s a great way to compost fast in a small space, and they’ll eat all kinds of scraps.

  7. Great post. I’ve always been curious about composting while living in a tiny apartment. I also like your dinosaur art.

    • Thanks. We call it “Dinosaur Beach”. It’s actually kinda weird. All the dinosaurs are like ice cream slaves.

  8. This is so perfect. I was literally just googling “how to make your own compost bin” today. Because my girlfriend saw the naked pile of corn husks and eggshells in the yard and almost called our landlord to evict me.

    • Oh, and the wood pallet bin on the link you posted is exactly what I spent hours looking for earlier. That is the one I’ll be making!

  9. Surely it must smell?
    And how do you shake it without gunk clogging up the carbon filter?

    I have a guinea pig, and being vegan, I suspect he may be an untapped resource….(the pig, not me)

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