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Composting may sound like hard, messy work. But done right, it can be a simple (and even tidy) way to benefit your garden and the planet. By using nature to break down waste, composting limits the production of methane, the potent greenhouse gas that forms when food decomposes in landfills.
Build a pile. Have a big backyard? Create a mound by layering dried leaves and shredded paper with vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds, and grass clippings. Omit meat, grains, and dairy, and hide food in the middle to curb odors and critters. Sprinkle soil on compost, moisten, and turn weekly.
Contain it. Whether or not you have outdoor space, you can buy or DIY a compost bin. One composting method popular in Japan limits odors with coconut peat and rice husks or hardwood ash.
Put worms to work. Consider trying vermicomposting to speed up decomposition. Worm-friendly bins work indoors or out; special crawlers thrive on vegetable waste, eating a quarter of their weight daily.
Outsource. If your municipality doesn’t pick up food waste (only 5% of US homes have curbside programs), you might be able to find a private composting service or drop off scraps at farmers markets. Refrigerate to limit odors and pests.