DIY Composter: How-to with TEC’s Youth Education!

Our Eco-Hero STEAM students got to make their own composters this fall!

What is compost?

Compost is decomposed organic material that can be used as a nutrient-rich soil amendment for indoor and outdoor gardens. This decomposition of organic material needs moisture, oxygen, and heat, which may not happen in a landfill: did you know a head of lettuce can take up to 25 years to decompose in a landfill? Organic material does not decompose into compost in a landfill, but rather into methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas. We can divert organic material from the landfill and create compost to close our waste loop. Composting harnesses nature’s process of decomposition to create something that benefits our yards and gardens!

Three Reasons to Compost!

Whether it is in your back yard, through a pick-up service, or through drop-off, participating in composting is important. Here’s why:

  1. It diverts thousands of pounds of garbage from the landfill.
  2. It is the ultimate closed-loop system – turning garbage into something we can reuse.
  3. When used in the yard, compost boosts plant health, helps soils retain water, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Here’s how we made home composters with the Eco Heroes:

  1. Gather materials: old plastic bottle (like a 2L soda bottle, clear milk jug, or spaghetti sauce jar), pushpin, scissors
  2. Prepare container: use the scissors to cut off the top of the bottle at the taper line, unless your container already has a large opening. Use the pushpin to make drain holes in the bottom or your container.
  3. Add compostable materials: some dirt (not potting soil), plant scraps, fruit and veggie scraps, a little coffee grounds, a little shredded paper
  4. Stir and moisten your compost using water in your spray bottle! Not too much, you don’t want it soggy.
  5. Add sunlight and time! Moisten and stir periodically. Your compost should be ready in about 2-5 weeks.
  6. Mix it in with your plants to give them nutrients!


Learn more

Although we want to do our best to reduce our waste (especially food waste, in this scenario), waste does happen. The most important thing is to keep the organic waste our of the landfill! There are many options for composting in Deschutes County: backyard composting, worm bin composting, yard debris / composting service.