Composting in trash can

How To Make a Compost Bin From a Plastic Dustbin

  1. Select Your Bin
  2. Composting Drills
  3. The Base
  4. Get Dirty
  5. Get The Scraps
  6. Shake It Up
  7. Moisten Your Compost
  8. More Drills
  9. Location
  10. Practice Patience

Are you a composter? If you are and are looking for an easy compost bin you can build yourself in just a portion of an afternoon. You’re in the right place.

In the last gardening post, you learned whether rabbits eat zucchini or not. In this post, you’re going to learn how to make a compost bin from a plastic dustbin. It’s the perfect cheap and easy DIY compost bin whether you’re a beginner composter or an off the grid homesteader.

After reading this post, you’ll know exactly how to make a compost bin from a plastic garbage can for less than $20.

RELATED: See dozens more DIY compost bin ideas and plans at Homesteading World.

DIY Composting Dustbin

Here’s how you make this composting bin.

Step 1: Select Your Bin

Since the theme of this a guide is how to make a composting bin with plastic dust been going to assume you want to make a composting bin from a plastic dust bin with that being said do you have to use a plastic and dust bin.

No, you don’t. You can use a couple of different items to accomplish the exact same type of Ben.

You can use a large plastic garbage bin that in most homes use to take out their trash.

Do you really need is a large plastic bin that has a tight-fitting lid that goes on the bench?

The reason we need a lid that shits the bed and tightly is to keep the soil moist and also to keep the bugs and critters out of your bin.

One option would be to get one of the plastic bins at Lowe’s for around seven dollars.

When it comes to composting bins, there are dozens of different options for the system that you use. Also, there are dozens of different DIY bins you can make in just an afternoon.

Some are simple and inexpensive and some are labor-intensive and require a small loan in order to build.

This bin that we’re going to make, this project can be done with less than $20 and possibly even free if you already have a plastic dust bin that you want to use.

Step 2: Composting Drills

After you’ve selected your plastic dustbin, it’s time for step two, we’re going to drill a few holes in your bin.

Get your electric drill out and you want to drill 8 to 12 small holes in the bottom of the plastic bin. The reason for the holes is for aeration purposes.

Step 3: The Base

Create the base for your compost. Create the base at the bottom of your bin. The base consists of shredded newspaper or dry leaves, or both.

Cover the entire bottom of the bin with either or and fill the bin about 20% full.

Step 4: Get Dirty

Now let’s add dirt on top of your base. Take your soil and dirt and sprinkle a layer on top of the base until the container is about halfway full.

Step 5: Get The Scraps

Now for the food scraps that you want to compost, you’re going to add the scraps into your bin now.

Here are a few types of food scraps that work well for composting. You want to make sure you’re using the right kinds of scraps because there are things that you can and cannot compost.

For example, eggshells are composter friendly, while lime is not compost friendly because limes are too acidic which would cause your compost to spoil.

Step 6: Shake It Up

Now, you want to stir everything in the bin with your choice of stirring method. It’s recommended to use either a stick or a shovel. Just make sure to cover the food scraps with the dirt, that’s the key.

Step 7: Moisten Your Compost

One of the best methods to do this is to spray down your compost with a spray bottle, use lukewarm water if you can. Spray the compost. Spray until it’s moist but not moist enough to be dripping water. Putting too much water in your compost could be could result in a smelly situation with your composting dust bin.

Step 8: More Drills

Just like the holes you drilled before in the bottom of your brain now you just want to drill another 8 to 12 small holes in the lid. After doing that please the lid on the bin and make sure it’s secure make sure it’s securely tight on top of the bin shop. Having the lid securely on the bin is going to help with the airflow inside of your bin.

Step 9: Location

Now it’s time to find a spot for your compost location. When it comes to location putting in the bin in a shady area away from the house is ideal.

Be sure that it’s not directly in the sunlight if it’s left directly in the sunlight your compost will dry out and you’ll have to start over. Putting your bin behind some bushes or shrubs works well. This also has an added bonus of hiding your compost bin from possible composting fees.

Step 10: Practice Patience

Now your composting dust bin is officially set up we want to add a few food scraps when we’ve got them periodically.

Now, what do you do? Now you just have to exercise some patience. We have to wait 2 to 4 months before the compost will be ready for use in your yard or garden. When it’s done it can be used as him putting soil or mulch or it can even be sprinkled over your grass which acts as a conditioner to your lawn.

Each time you add some food scraps make sure that you restore the compost. Stirring it on a continuous basis helps break everything down faster. Having a small compost and recycling container in your kitchen for easy access after eating is ideal.

In Conclusion

Just like every gardener and farmer knows, first we harvest, first we plant, and then we harvest when we collect and if the rain comes and destroys your harvest, van brush it off and re-plant and re-harvest we all reap what we sow but if we do not sow we do not read.

Now you know how to build a compost bin out of a plastic trash can. Did you ever think you would be able to make a composting bin out of a plastic dustbin so easily?

Have you taken up vermin composting yet? When you’re ready to make your own worm composting bin, check out the DIY worm compost bins that are even easier than this one.

Have you ever made a compost bin?

Unless you compost already, your yard debris, vegetable peels, egg shells, and even old coffee grounds probably end up in the trash and, eventually, in a landfill. Putting these objects into the trash is a waste of their potential. With a little hard work and a few simple steps, you can turn this trash into treasure for your garden.

Composting is a great way to both divert waste from landfills and nourish a garden without spending money on fertilizers. The problem is that many composters are expensive or too large to fit on a small property. If you have wanted to start composting but are intimidated by the price or size of fancy composting bins, a trash can compost bin is the perfect solution for you.

Why Compost?

Composting has many benefits for the environment and for the individual doing it. While some cities pick up compost curbside, having your own backyard composter allows you to reap even more composting benefits.

Benefits of Composting:

  • Diverts waste from landfills, which reduces methane emissions
  • Saves money on garbage removal and fertilizers
  • Enriches soil, which is good for plants
  • Saves water, as compost helps with moisture retention
  • It can be fun!

Yes, that’s right, composting can be fun for the entire family! It is a great activity to do with your family. Kids will love seeing their food scraps slowly turn into dirt, and they can enjoy helping turn and sift the compost. If you already like to garden, you’ll love taking an active role in creating rich soil.


Trash cans are underappreciated household objects. They are designed to be tough and hold up to years of daily use. They are also made to be resistant to leaks, hold in odors, and keep out unwanted critters. These sturdy objects can be repurposed in many ways, and composting is just one of them.

A good compost bin is sturdy and will not rot even when full of decomposing objects and standing in the hot sun. A heavy duty trash can will be able to hold up to these conditions. If you don’t have an old can around, you can purchase a new one or check with your city garbage collector to see if they have any spares they would be willing to part with.

DIY Trash Can Compost Bin


  • Large plastic trash can (32–55 gallons)
  • Locking trash can lid or two bungee cords
  • Drill and 3/4-inch drill bit
  • Two cinder blocks

1. If the trash can is old, you will need to clean it out thoroughly before you begin. If your trash can is new, you are ready to begin.

2. Turn the trash can upside down, and begin drilling holes along the bottom. Drill the holes about 4–6 inches apart. These will allow excess moisture to drain and oxygen to reach the bottom.

3. Next, drill holes in the sides of the trash can and a few in the lid.

4. Place your new compost bin on top of the cinder blocks to allow for airflow.

5. Now that the body of your trash can composter is done, you need to start filling it. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You need a combination of carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials for compost to work. A simple way to remember is to think of brown material (carbon) vs. green material (nitrogen).
  • Brown material is things like dried leaves and shredded paper. Green material can include grass clippings and kitchen scraps.
  • Moisture is also important for compost. Too much moisture is bad, and so is too little. Try to keep it about as wet as a wrung-out sponge. The green material will add moisture to your compost, but you can add more if it needs it.

6. Every two weeks or so, your compost needs to be turned. Either lock the lid or secure it on with bungee cords, and then simply roll the trash can on the ground until it is well mixed. If your lid does not secure, you can turn it with a shovel instead.

7. Depending on how hot your compost gets, it should be ready within a few months. Once it’s done, you are ready to use it in your garden!

From Trash to Treasure

Want to cut down the food-scrap waste that gets tossed in your kitchen garbage, stop spending on fertilizers and extra water for your garden, and encourage your family members to work together doing a healthy activity? Follow our simple steps to start your own compost bin, and you can accomplish all of these things at the same time. Composting is not only good for the environment, it is good for your garden. Don’t wait until the time is right to buy a compost bin—make your own today!

The Trash Can Compost Bin

We all want to be greener, healthier and wiser, but we don’t have to break the bank to do it. Here’s my garbage can composter. It’s simple, chic and wallet friendly, not to mention, a good family project.

To Build a Trash Can Compost Bin

  • A plastic or metal garbage can; it must have a locking lid
  • A drill
  • A hole saw bit for metal doors – I used the size for the peep hole
  • Three or four cinder blocks – they should have holes for drainage

If you’re getting help from the kids or other enthusiastic family members, its best to put a piece of 2”x4” in the can so it doesn’t accidentally get crushed. Even the metal cans can still be bent back into shape, but the lid might not lock as securely as you’d like.

The hole saw bit cuts easily through either the plastic or metal with little resistance.

To make, simply cut holes all around the can, including the bottom and the lid. We had the kids paint the can afterwards as an art project.

Make sure the lid keeps a secure lock. Use cinder blocks for proper drainage into the soil.

Using Your Homemade Composter

To use, just take it out to your garden and dump in a thin layer of soil, then add your kitchen scraps and other compost material.

Each time you add your kitchen scraps, shredded newsprint, sawdust, etc, add another layer of soil. Do not add manure, as this unit does not heat sufficiently enough to biodegrade pathogens.

Hey, if you have a fish tank (as long as it’s NOT salt water) every time you clean it, take the waste water and pour it into the barrel – it will add more nutrients to the compost.

The great thing about this composter is that you get to move it each season so you don’t saturate the ground in any one area. I used mine in my tomato beds one year and had fantastic results with heritage Beefsteak tomatoes.

Once in a while you should stir it up—I used a hoe, but only after it was half way full. It can dry out in the summer, but again, adding fish tank water, creek water, rain water, or tap water will fix that problem.

Depending on the weather, it will take four to eight weeks to break down standard kitchen, lawn and garden waste. You know how much waste you produce. I found that once I filled the composting can about three or four times, I just left it, stirred it once or twice a month, then worked it in after I cleaned the bed up in the fall (my family of four actually needs three units for the year).

Handy Uses

This unit can be used in the winter, not for composting, but for compost storage. Basically, you have three or four units put somewhere, not too close to the kitchen, but where you can access them all winter. For the winter, only use metal bins. We found that plastic garbage cans warp in the winter, and can crack and shatter if filled too much.

During the winter, you or one of your helpers dumps the household compostable matter daily. For this, I bought a square wastebasket that just fits the paper bags from grocery stores. They are completely biodegradable. Just fill and dump, but be careful of the wet stuff. Roll the top and flip the contents to the dry materials and send out to the compost cans.

In the spring, once everything has thawed enough, slide out the contents. Once you’ve set up your beds and composting areas, you can just shovel the now thawed contents back into the composting cans or add to your compost pile. Because it was previously frozen, the waste breaks down very fast. It does need a lot of air – if you’re shoveling the contents back into the cans, you must stir to aerate it. But it is worth it.

If it starts to smell and you realize that it’s gotten kind of slimy, just add dry organic matter and stir. This doesn’t mean you need to have a bale of straw on hand, (though that would work fine), just add extra untreated wood chips, dry grass clippings or extra shredded newspaper.

If you get night time visitors, it’s important that the composter is on solid footing, or else it can (and will) fall over. I used four cinder blocks, which worked fine. My friend has used four bricks, and even though she had to dig them out in the fall, she felt they worked just fine.

Have Fun with this Project!

The garbage can composter makes a great project for kids to make and paint (adults, of course, are responsible for drilling the holes), and it makes a fun garden gift for family and friends!

Just remember, never add shiny magazine type paper, computer paper (it’s treated and can be toxic), or meat. Sure, you can compost meat and cat and dog waste (if municipal laws allow it), but you need a larger area, and a managed compost pile needs a minimum of eight feet square by six feet high to get hot enough to properly break down the waste. However, for a smaller project like this, it’s great for your kitchen scraps and suburban back yards.

Remember to have fun and enjoy your green spaces!

The above article was sponsored by Cate’s Garden. The information contained in this article may contain ads or advertorial opinions.

A Homemade Compost Bin For A Few Dollars

There are hundreds of compost bins for sale online and in stores, but they all share the same two problems: size and price. For those of us with large gardens, most retail compost bins are either too small or too expensive.

You can modify a standard plastic trash can like this one into a compost bin.

Being the frugal gardener that I am, I sought a better way – after all, compost will break down in any number of containers. The stirring mechanisms in retail versions are a great idea, easy to use and speed the breakdown, but are they worth the price?

The zero-cost solution if you have the room, is to make a cold compost pile: throw your table scraps and yard waste in a big pile at the edge of your yard and let it break down. This is called cold composting. To get the pile to heat up a little more, surround it with bales of hay which will break down and add additional organic material to your pile. You can also trench compost – dig a trench in a fallow garden bed and add table scraps and yard waste directly into the soil.

The next best solution is to make an inexpensive homemade compost bin with a modified large black plastic garbage can, available at any hardware store for about ten dollars.

What you need to build a homemade compost bin:

  • Large black plastic trash can
  • ½” drill bit with a power drill
  • Two bungee cords
  • Bricks or wood blocks

Air circulation is critical to composting, so the can needs holes – without them, the odor will be unbearable. With a 1/2″ drill bit, create 4 vertical sets of 6 evenly spaced holes around the can and 6 evenly spaced holes in the bottom for drainage. Also, drill 6 holes in the lid of the can to allow rainwater in and air to flow through the pile. Oxygen encourages aerobic bacteria to go to work on your compost, which will keep it odor-free and speed the breakdown.

You’ll also need two bungee cords: one to hold the can’s lid on securely and one to tie the bin to a stationary object (like a porch railing) so it won’t blow away in a storm. Chasing a compost bin across your neighbor’s lawn in a thunderstorm while the can is spilling its ingredients is ugly.

Finally, raise your bin off the ground by placing it on a few bricks (or something similar) so that air can get under it and it can properly drain. If you like, you can place a receptacle under your bin to catch the fluid – called “compost tea” – that drains out.

You now have a homemade compost bin.

When you want to stir your compost, take the can off the bricks, keep the lid intact with the bungee cords, and give it a few rolls on the lawn.

Perfecting the art of composting can be tricky, but it’s essential to the health of your garden. Compost adds beneficial microbes to the soil and provides the highest nutrition for your garden plants.

The Art Of Composting

The key to proper composting is getting it to heat up. If your balance is correct, the pile should create heat on its own within a week or two (steam will actually rise from your pile) and you should have finished compost in one or two months. The heat is created by the biological activity in the pile, not the absorbed heat from sunlight (although the solar heat helps somewhat). Stir it frequently – the more oxygen that reaches the bacteria, the faster the compost breaks down.

When you add fresh ingredients to your new compost, take a handful of soil from your garden and throw it on top – the soil contains microbes which will kick-start the fermenting process. Wet the top of the compost thoroughly, but not so much that it’s soaked.

At least once a week, give your compost a stir and check the smell. If it has a foul odor, either your carbon to nitrogen ratio (brown material to green material) is out of whack, or it’s too wet. Let the pile dry for a day or two and if it’s still smelly, then you have too much green stuff (nitrogen), so add more brown material like wood ashes; shredded dry leaves; shredded cardboard; shredded black and white newspaper; chopped, dried corn stalks; or chopped, dried sunflower stalks. Stir the compost after adding the new material. The smell should go away in a day or two.

Buy on Amazon: Third Rock Compost Bin for Kitchen Counter | Powder Coated Carbon Steel Compost Bucket for Kitchen

What Do You Put In Your Compost Bin?

Many years ago, the standard ingredients for compost and fertilizing farm fields were horse manure and straw. This combination is outstanding for soil health, but a little light on fertilization. For those who don’t have access to this great gift, you can compost:

  • shredded tree leaves
  • table scraps*
  • newspaper (black and white only)
  • brown paper bags (shredded)
  • non-glossy white paper plates
  • plain cardboard (non-coated)
  • vacuum cleaner wastes
  • grass clippings
  • corn and sunflower stalks
  • pet or human hair
  • wood ashes
  • coffee grounds
  • used tea bags and tea leaves
  • coffee grounds

*Table scraps are excellent for composting as they add valuable bacteria to speed the breakdown. Use anything that’s fruit, grain or vegetable, but avoid meat scraps, because the smell may attract animals like raccoons, which will tear your bin to shreds trying to get it. Meat scraps may also turn putrid in your bin and create a horrendous odor.

The key to fast composting is to shred everything into very small pieces – the smaller it is, the faster it will break down.

How Do You Know When Compost Is Finished?

When compost is finished, it will look crumbly, be the color of chocolate and have a pleasant, earthy smell, not foul in any way. It will also be much smaller than the pile you started with – about two-thirds smaller, depending on your ingredients. Dump it on your garden and start again! Your plants will thrive on it and you’ll reduce your personal trash stream to practically nil.

Make a Compost Bin from a Trash Can

Uncle Byron showed us the contents of the two buried trash receptacles. One was filled with what looked—and smelled—like fresh household garbage … while the other contained beautiful, rich, humus-like material. Not far away was a compost pile which—my husband’s uncle told us—contained “digested refuse” from the second can. It was completely pest- and odor-free.

Needless to say, when I got home I was anxious to try Uncle Byron’s “double barrel” approach to composting. First, I rounded up a pair of trash cans and made an opening in the bottom of each. (The best way to do this is to have a welder cut the entire bottom out with a torch. Alternatively, several large punctures will suffice for drainage purposes.) Then I buried the two barrels in the ground, leaving just enough of their rims showing so that I could fit snug lids on them (see photograph). And without further adieu, I began to empty my kitchen garbage into one of the two steel compost “Pits”.

The virtues of the new system were immediately apparent. Cats, dogs, and flies were shut out … while odors were shut in. At last, no more pests! Maggots did appear once—after we put fish innards in the can—but the heat generated by natural biodegradation killed off the little varmints before they could develop into adult flies. (Various “trash can” insecticides exist, but I can see nothing to recommend them. And besides, even though Maggots ARE repulsive I don’t mind them spending their short lives working the soil in my subterranean composter!)

It seemed like forever (actually, it was four months) before that first small can was completely full. The container might be brimming with garbage one day … and it might be down to a third of that amount a few days later. (in hot weather, the wastes seemed to “melt” like ice.) Finally—when the barrel was nearly filled to capacity, and stayed there—I mixed in a shovelful of manure to help speed decomposition … then I closed the lid tight and let nature take its course.

In the meantime, I started dumping garbage into the second can. And—Sure enough—long before it was full, the first container’s contents had turned into rich, black compost, ready to be spread on the garden or used to top-dress our flowering plants.

A bonus we hadn’t counted on, by the way, was earthworms. The little squirmers were attracted to the barrels in droves and—after coming in through the openings in the cans’ bottoms—kept themselves busy working the rotted garbage into a black, meal-like fertilizer (which proved, once again, that worms are every bit as much a blessing to gardeners as to fishermen).

We’re happy to report—thanks to our “underground composter “—that we no longer have any problem with pests, our neighbors never look at us with wrinkled noses anymore, and we now have a garbage disposal that’ll never choke on a bone or add a cent to our utility bill!

How to Turn a Garbage Can into a Composter

By Cathy Cromell, The National Gardening Association

One inexpensive option for making your own compost container is to use a large, recycled garbage can. Contact the department responsible for trash pickup (it may be called solid waste disposal) in your area, whether it be a town, city, county, or other office. Many communities recycle their no-longer-useable garbage cans as compost containers to residents, either free or for a nominal fee. You may want to gather a group of neighbors (including someone with a truck) to pick up several at once.

Check with these same municipal departments (or the Council departments in the United Kingdom) to see whether they offer reduced prices on manufactured compost containers. Some may offer promotions (even free manufactured containers) to encourage community involvement in composting, recycling, and waste reduction.

Garbage can styles vary, of course. Some come with secure lids, which is great if you want to keep pests out. Most agencies have already removed any wheels on the can. Some may remove the bottom of the trash can and/or punch aeration holes. If you have a preference for bottom/no bottom or holes/no holes, ask in advance to see whether your request can be accommodated.

Using recycled garbage cans as composting bins has upsides and downsides:


  • Cost: They’re free or inexpensive.

  • Portability: They’re easy to move to different areas in the garden.

  • Protection from pests: Cans with lids keep pests at bay.


  • Size and shape: Most garbage cans aren’t quite large enough to contain the optimal amount of organic matter (1 cubic yard or 1 cubic meter) needed to self-insulate and promote fast decomposition.

  • Appearance: With apologies to Gertrude Stein, a garbage can is a garbage can is a garbage can. Let your kids loose on it with some paints and brushes to dress it up a bit, or hide the can in the back corner of your landscape!

The great thing about this compost bin project is that it requires so little — a recycled garbage receptacle obtained from your municipality. If this isn’t an option where you live, you may check with neighbors or put an advertisement in your local paper or on Web sites asking to recycle a can someone is tossing.

Not surprisingly, lifting or moving the bin into position is the most challenging part of erecting a recycled garbage can compost bin. You just set your can in place and start filling it up. (Wasn’t that easy?

If your can comes with a lid but no bottom and you want to keep pests at bay, dig a hole about 1 foot (0.3 meters) deep and “sink” the base of the container into the soil.

If your can has no lid, no bottom, and is wider at the top, the narrowing shape makes it somewhat more difficult to aerate the organic matter at the bottom when stirring with a compost fork or aeration tool. Setting the can upside down so the wider section becomes the base alleviates this issue. When it’s time to turn the material, lift it up, set it aside, and fork the materials back into it. When choosing a site for your composting, allow sufficient space to set the can to the side, and you’ll save labor in the long run.

This easy indoor compost system turns food scraps into fertilizer in 24 hours

We hear all the time about how much food we send to the landfill every year. Sure, composting can help with things, but when you live in a small home, an apartment, or on a property that doesn’t have the space for an outdoor compost system, responsible food disposal can be difficult to do.

In an attempt to solve the problem of sending food waste to the landfills and making composting easier and more accessible to everyone, Whirlpool’s WLabs has created Zera, a food recycler that automatically recycles 95% of food scraps into ready-to-use fertilizer in just 24 hours.

Using a plant-based additive, mixing blades, oxygen, heat, and moisture, the Zera Food Recycler breaks down a week’s worth of food waste in 24 hours to create homemade fertilizer that can be used on the lawn, potted plants, and in the garden.

Each time you close the lid, the motor turns on and moves the food down to create more space inside, allowing you to fit as much food in as possible. When the pile of food scraps reaches the top of the blades, the recycler is full and it’s time to run a cycle.

An entire package of the additive, is placed inside, the lid is closed, and with the simple press of a button, either on the device itself or from an app on your phone, the recycling process begins. 24 hours later, you’ve got fertilizer.

With the exception of large pits and bones, the Zera Food Recycler can accept meat, dairy, and everything in between without the worry of pets or pests getting into it.

An outdoor compost system requires a large amount of space, but the the Zera Food Recycler allows you to have a kitchen compost that requires as much space as a garbage can, making it the perfect apartment or small kitchen compost solution.

To learn more, you can visit their website here and Indiegogo campaign, here, or watch the video below.

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