How to Turn an Old Trash Can into a Compost Bin: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to turn old trash can into a compost bin

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Why turn an old trash can into a compost bin?

Do you have an old trash can lying around? Instead of letting it collect dust or throwing it away, why not turn it into a compost bin? Composting is a great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your plants and garden. Converting an old trash can into a compost bin is a simple and cost-effective solution. All you need to do is drill some holes in the can for aeration, add the right balance of brown and green materials, and let nature do its work.

The holes will provide ventilation and allow beneficial organisms to break down the organic matter inside, creating compost. Plus, the trash can provides a contained space to keep the compost tidy and easily accessible. So, don’t let that old trash can go to waste – repurpose it into a compost bin and give your plants a natural boost!

Materials needed

If you’re looking for a way to reduce waste and produce nutrient-rich soil for your garden, turning an old trash can into a compost bin is a great solution. Not only is it a cost-effective option, but it also helps the environment by diverting organic waste from landfills. To get started, you’ll need a few materials: an old trash can with a lid, a drill with a 1/2 inch drill bit, a shovel or pitchfork for turning the compost, and some composting material like kitchen scraps, yard waste, and dried leaves.

First, drill some holes in the bottom and sides of the trash can to allow for aeration and drainage. Then, place the can in a convenient location in your yard or garden. Fill it with a mix of green and brown composting materials, making sure to add water as needed to keep the compost moist but not soggy.

Turn the compost periodically to speed up the decomposition process, and in a few months, you’ll have rich, dark compost ready to use in your garden. Turning your old trash can into a compost bin is a simple and effective way to reduce waste and create a valuable resource for your garden.

how to turn old trash can into a compost bin

Step-by-step instructions

Are you tired of throwing away your kitchen scraps and yard waste and want to turn them into nutrient-rich compost for your garden? Well, look no further! In this step-by-step guide, I’m going to show you how to easily convert an old trash can into a compost bin. Not only will this save you money and reduce waste, but it will also provide your garden with natural fertilizers. So let’s get started! First, make sure you choose a sturdy trash can that has a tight-fitting lid.

This will help keep out pests and prevent odors. Next, drill several small holes in the bottom and sides of the can to ensure proper drainage and aeration. This will allow airflow and help break down the organic materials.

Once you’ve done that, place the bin in a sunny spot in your yard, as the heat will speed up the composting process. Now it’s time to start adding your organic waste. You can start with kitchen scraps, such as fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and eggshells.

Just avoid adding meat, dairy products, and oils, as these can attract pests. You can also add yard waste, like grass clippings, leaves, and small twigs. It’s important to regularly mix or turn the compost to ensure even decomposition.

This can be done using a garden fork or shovel. Lastly, be patient! Composting takes time, usually several months to a year, depending on the conditions. But trust me, the end result is well worth it.

So why not give it a try and turn your old trash can into a compost bin today? Keywords used: kitchen scraps, yard waste, compost, organic materials, drainage, aeration, pests, odors, heat, sunny spot, garden fork, garden shovel, patience.

Step 1: Clean and prepare the trash can

Once you’ve decided it’s time to tackle that dirty trash can, the first step is to clean and prepare it properly. This is an important task because a dirty can not only smell bad but can also harbor bacteria and attract pests. To begin, gather the necessary supplies – gloves, a brush or sponge, mild detergent, and hot water.

Start by emptying the trash can and then take it outside to a suitable location. Use a hose or a bucket of hot soapy water to rinse out any loose dirt and debris. Next, use the brush or sponge to scrub the interior and exterior of the can, making sure to pay attention to any stubborn stains.

Rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow the can to air dry completely before putting it back in use. This step is vital in ensuring that your trash can is clean and hygienic, ready to hold your waste without causing any unpleasant odors or health hazards.

Step 2: Drill holes in the bottom of the trash can

In order to turn your trash can into a compost bin, the next step is to drill holes in the bottom of the trash can. This is an important step as it allows for proper drainage and aeration of the compost. Without holes, the organic matter in the bin can become waterlogged and start to rot instead of decompose.

Begin by marking where you want the holes to be on the bottom of the trash can. Space them out evenly, making sure to have enough holes to effectively drain excess moisture. Then, using a drill with a drill bit suitable for plastic, carefully drill holes in the marked locations.

Be sure to apply steady pressure and drill straight through the bottom of the can. Once all the holes are drilled, inspect them to make sure there are no sharp edges or rough surfaces that could potentially harm the compost. With the holes in place, your compost bin is now ready for the next step in the composting process.

Step 3: Add a layer of small sticks or twigs

In the third step of building a fire pit, you’ll want to add a layer of small sticks or twigs. This layer serves as kindling and helps to get your fire started. These small sticks or twigs can be gathered from nearby trees or branches that you find on the ground.

They should be dry and easily flammable to ensure a successful fire. Once you have collected enough small sticks or twigs, lay them on top of the layer of newspapers or fire starters that you placed in the previous step. Make sure to arrange them in a crisscross or teepee-like pattern to ensure proper airflow and maximize the chances of getting a roaring fire.

The small sticks or twigs will catch fire easily and provide the initial flames needed to ignite the larger logs that you’ll add in the next steps. And just like that, your fire pit is one step closer to being ready for use!

Step 4: Add a layer of brown materials

Adding a layer of brown materials is an essential step in the composting process. Brown materials, also known as carbon-rich materials, help create the balance needed for successful composting. These materials include things like dried leaves, twigs, straw, and shredded paper.

By adding a layer of brown materials on top of your green materials, you create insulation that helps regulate temperature and moisture levels within the compost pile. Brown materials also provide a source of carbon for the microorganisms that break down the organic matter. Think of it like adding a cozy blanket to your compost pile, creating the perfect environment for decomposition to occur.

So, don’t forget to grab those dried leaves or newspaper clippings and give your compost pile a nice layer of brown materials. Your garden will thank you later!

Step 5: Add a layer of green materials

In the fifth step of the composting process, it’s time to add a layer of green materials to your compost pile. Green materials refer to things like fresh grass clippings, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and other nitrogen-rich items. These materials provide the necessary nutrients and moisture that help speed up the decomposition process.

They also add important microbes that aid in breaking down the organic matter. When adding the green materials, it’s important to mix them in evenly with the brown materials from the previous step. This helps create a well-balanced compost pile that will produce rich, nutrient-dense compost for your plants and soil.

So, grab some fresh kitchen scraps and get ready to add a healthy dose of green to your compost pile!

Step 6: Add water and mix the contents

In step 6 of this DIY project, it’s time to add water and mix the contents of our concoction. This is the stage where our project really starts to come together and take shape. Adding the water helps to create the right consistency and texture for our mixture, ensuring that it binds together properly.

The exact amount of water needed will depend on the specific project and recipe you are following. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully, as too much or too little water can affect the outcome of your project. As you pour in the water, you can start to mix the contents together using a spoon or your hands.

This step is crucial in ensuring that all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and that your finished product has a smooth and consistent texture. So go ahead, add water and get ready to mix – it’s the final stretch before you can see your DIY project come to life!

Step 7: Continue adding materials and maintaining the compost

In step 7, you will continue to add materials to your compost pile and maintain its health. First, make sure to keep adding a balanced mixture of green and brown materials. Greens include things like kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and plant trimmings, which provide nitrogen to the pile.

Browns, on the other hand, consist of dry leaves, straw, and shredded paper, which add carbon. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance between these two types of materials to ensure the decomposition process runs smoothly. Additionally, make sure to water your pile regularly to keep it moist, similar to a well-watered garden.

This helps the microorganisms break down the materials more effectively. Lastly, turn and aerate your compost every few weeks to provide oxygen to the microorganisms and speed up decomposition. With patience and care, your compost pile will continue to transform into rich, nutrient-filled compost that can be used to nourish your plants and soil.

Tips for success

If you have an old trash can lying around, don’t throw it away just yet! You can easily transform it into a compost bin and start reaping the benefits of rich, nutrient-filled soil for your garden. First, make sure the trash can has a lid to keep pests and odors at bay. Next, drill several small holes in the bottom and sides of the can to allow for proper airflow.

This will ensure that your compost doesn’t become too wet or smelly. Once that’s done, place the bin in a shady spot in your yard and start adding your compostable materials. This can include fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, and yard waste.

Just make sure to avoid adding meat, dairy, or oily foods, as they can attract pests. Mix your compost regularly to help it break down faster, and in a few months, you’ll have rich, dark compost ready to nourish your plants. That old trash can will be a valuable asset in your gardening journey, and you’ll be reducing waste and helping the environment at the same time.

So go ahead and give it a try – your plants and the planet will thank you!


So there you have it: an easy and innovative way to turn your old trash can into a compost bin. Not only will you be reducing waste and helping the environment, but you’ll also be creating nutrient-rich compost for your plants and gardens. Plus, by reusing materials you already have, you’ll be saving money and adding a touch of DIY charm to your backyard.

Now, who said trash cans were only good for holding garbage? With a little creativity and a green thumb, you can transform them into a composting masterpiece. Happy composting, and remember, one person’s trash can truly be another person’s treasure!”


How can I turn an old trash can into a compost bin?
To turn an old trash can into a compost bin, first drill several holes in the bottom and sides of the can for proper aeration. Place a layer of twigs or small branches at the bottom to allow for drainage. Then, add a mixture of brown and green organic waste, such as leaves, grass clippings, fruit peels, and vegetable scraps. Ensure the compost pile is kept moist but not waterlogged, and turn the contents every few weeks to help accelerate decomposition.

What materials do I need to turn an old trash can into a compost bin?
To turn an old trash can into a compost bin, you will need an old trash can with a lid, a drill with a quarter-inch drill bit, some twigs or small branches, and a mixture of brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich) organic waste materials.

Can I use any type of trash can for a compost bin?
Ideally, it is best to use a trash can made of plastic or metal that is around 20-30 gallons in capacity. Avoid using trash cans made of materials that may release toxins into the compost, such as treated wood or certain types of metals.

How long does it take for the compost to be ready in a trash can compost bin?
The time it takes for compost to be ready in a trash can compost bin can vary depending on various factors such as the composition of organic waste, the amount of moisture and aeration, and the ambient temperature. On average, compost can be ready in about 2-6 months, but it may take longer or shorter periods depending on the conditions.

Can I compost meat and dairy products in a trash can compost bin?
It is best to avoid composting meat, dairy products, and other animal products in a trash can compost bin. These materials can attract pests and may not decompose properly in a confined space. Stick to composting plant-based organic waste such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and yard waste.

Do I need to add any special additives or accelerators to compost in a trash can compost bin?
While it is not necessary, you can add compost accelerators or activators to speed up the decomposition process in a trash can compost bin. Some examples include compost starters, worm castings, or a small amount of high-nitrogen materials like grass clippings or manure. However, if you maintain a good balance of brown and green waste and provide adequate moisture and aeration, your compost should decompose naturally without additional additives.

Can I place a trash can compost bin directly on the ground?
Yes, you can place a trash can compost bin directly on the ground. This allows for beneficial soil organisms and worms to access the compost and help with decomposition. However, it is advisable to place some bricks or blocks beneath the bin to improve drainage and prevent it from sinking into the soil.

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