“The first step would be to determine the best system for you,” said Jennifer Jensen, founder of the Westchester County, N.Y., Master Compost Program.
Some people opt to create a compost pile in a corner of the backyard, sometimes enclosed by a wire, cagelike structure, sometimes not. Others prefer a large covered bin that rotates. The price varies according to the bin’s features, including whether it turns or stacks. Jensen said you can get a basic black plastic bin with a screw-on top for about $100. Check your local municipality or environmental center, however; some offer bins at a discount.
“A pile works just great for leaves and grass clippings, but when you want to incorporate food waste, it’s time to use a bin to prevent rodents,” the EPA says in its guide to backyard composting.
Apartment dwellers also can compost right in their kitchens, sometimes speeding the process with red wriggler worms or another species to break down organic matter. This is called vermicomposting. Specialized bins are sold for indoor use, and the worms are available online.