So you want to reduce your food waste? You’ve come to the right place. We’ll get you paired with the best composter for your space and lifestyle. A composter can help you divert nutrient-rich food scraps from landfills, reduce your carbon footprint, and enrich your garden and community in the process. Now, before we get into the good stuff, here’s the 411 on the composting process—and how to filter through the best compost bins to find one that’s ideal for you. 

As an aside, we know that fighting climate change has almost nothing to do with personal responsibility. It’s going to take radical transformation from governments, fossil-fueled companies, and lobbyists. But there are always small things you can do to create a more sustainably minded home and community if you have the means. Basically what we’re saying is, try your best, pester your state and local representatives, and be kind to your neighbors. 

What is composting?

Composting is a process that turns food scraps like carrot tops, moldy strawberries, eggshells, and lettuce heads into nutrient-rich dirt and fertilizer for gardening and houseplant maintenance. According to the USDA, in the United States an estimated 30 to 40% of the food supply is wasted. Composting some of what you don’t use is an easy way to fight your individual waste.

Basically, microorganisms, worms, or a combination of heat and oxygen turn your leftovers into soil over time. By purchasing a compost bin and investing a little more time into your food prep routine, you can greatly reduce the amount of food waste you produce. What’s more, you can often drop off your food scraps or finished compost to a local community garden if you don’t have a use for it. So not only are you committing to sustainability but community care too.

“Composting is a whole system, and everyone needs to figure out what works for them,” Rick Carr, farm director at the Rodale Institute, previously told SELF. “A lot of people are focused on getting the end product, but the reality is that you have to make a decision to put more effort into recycling on a regular basis.” For more advice about composting and how to get started, read our composting guide.

What should you look for when buying a compost bin?

When it comes to finding the best composter, first you have to narrow down your options. There are a few different kinds, each with different benefits:

Indoor Compost Bins

Countertop compost bins or machines like the Lomi and Vitamix FoodCycler are ideal for small apartments or homes without outdoor space. By having a compost bin in your kitchen, you can keep it close by during food prep and may be more inclined to toss your food scraps there instead of in the trash can. What’s more, the manual labor for indoor composters is less, as you won’t need a pitchfork or shovel to “turn” your scraps every day. Worm compost bins are also used indoors and are pretty hands-off once you set them up. They produce finished compost quickly, using less energy than electric composting machines.