There’s a perception among some people that you need to be wealthy in order to adopt sustainable living practices. It’s true that many Americans may not be able to afford a hybrid car, a solar paneled roof, or an elaborate rainwater harvesting/irrigation system.
But one way to embrace green living doesn’t involve spending a big chunk of cash: composting. Saving your food scraps and other organic material to be put into a compost bin doesn’t cost anything. Plus, composting reduces landfill space and keeps toxic fertilizer out of the ground.
Sure, there are plenty of places where you can purchase a compost bin for your home, and you can spend hundreds of dollars for some of these products. But here’s the good news: you can easily construct your perfectly functional compost bin without spending much (or any) money!
Here are three types of compost bins that you can build yourself:
You’ll need four three-foot long four-by-fours (or two-by-twos) and sixteen three-foot long two-by-sixes. After you cut the wood to those lengths, take two of the 4x4s and lay them on the ground parallel to each other so that the outside edges are three feet apart.
Take four of the 2x6s and lay them across the 4x4s in a perpendicular fashion so that each 2×6 is separated by about two inches. Then attach each end of the 2×6 to the 4x4s using two galvanized nails (or coated deck screws).
Repeat the process using the other 4x4s and four other 2x6s. You’ll then have two walls of your compost bin. Stand up each wall and position them parallel to each other three feet apart.
To connect the two walls on one side, take four 2x6s and nail each end to a 4×4 in the same manner as before. You’ll then have a three-sided box. Complete the fourth wall the same way you constructed the third wall.
Your bin won’t need a floor, but it may need a lid. You can take a three-by-three foot square piece of flat wood and place it on top; you don’t need to secure it to the wood. You may want to make it heavy enough so that it doesn’t blow away in a stiff wind (by hammering extra wood onto it, for instance).
Chicken Wire Pen
This DIY compost bin is even easier to make. All you need is a piece of chicken wire that’s about three to four feet wide and nine to ten feet long, as well as four wooden stakes (scrap wood is okay) that are at least as long as the chicken wire is wide.
Lay the chicken wire on the ground and place one of the stakes flat on the ground next to its edge. Make sure that one of the edges of the chicken wire is flush with the end of the stake.
Now slide the chicken wire over the stake just enough so that the edge of the wire rectangle is in line with the outside edge of the stake. Using a staple gun, affix the chicken wire to the stake.
Then take the other end of the chicken wire and curl it over until it touches the stake. You should now have a cylinder of chicken wire. Affix the other end of the chicken wire to the stake.
Turn the cylinder on the end where the wire and the stake are flush. Take the other three stakes and staple them to the chicken wire 90 degrees in arc apart. When you’re finished, you’ll have four equally-spaced stakes at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions on a “clock.” Your bin is now complete (although you can make a lid out of chicken wire or wood if you like).
Plastic Compost Bin
This type is the easiest compost bin to make. All you need is a plastic storage bin (it’s okay if it is cracked) and a drill. Simply drill random holes in all four sides and the bottom of your bin in order to allow for enough drainage. Voila! A cheap and easy compost bin!
Fill your DIY compost bin with soil, food scraps, and plant or grass clipping and “stir” the contents occasionally. In a few months, you’ll have nutrient-rich material that you can mix with your soil in your beds and gardens.
See? You can practice green living without spending a lot of “green” in the process. Go ahead and make your own compost bin today!
Written by Del Thebaud