Making a Compost Bin From a Trash Can


Composting yard and table scraps is one of the best ways to lower your carbon footprint. By keeping grass clippings, leaves, and kitchen scraps out of the landfill, you not only save that room but create a natural, nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden and container plants. Save the planet and your money by creating your own compost bin instead of purchasing one. Recycle an old plastic trash can with a lid into your own compost bin in just a few easy steps.

Step 1

Drill holes about 6 inches apart evenly around the perimeter of the trash can from top to bottom. Air is an essential ingredient in composting, so it is vital air can pass through the can. Drill two holes in the bottom of the can to help with drainage. Compost needs moisture, but should not be soaking wet.

Step 2

Place your can on two bricks or concrete blocks to lift it off the ground and provide room to place a pan underneath to catch the run-off. The run-off is known as "compost tea" and is an excellent fertilizer for container plants as well as your garden. Place your bin away from your home to cut down on the smell and keep any possible nosy animals away.

Step 3

Add compost ingredients, mixing brown matter like leaves, twigs, shredded newspaper and grass clippings with green matter--vegetable and fruit scraps, disease-free green plant material, eggshells, coffee grounds and tea bags. Water slightly.

Step 4

Add red wiggler worms, if desired. Red wigglers can be purchased online or through full-service garden centers and are a great investment for container compost bins. The worms quickly eat the matter, producing a vermicompost (worm poo) that is highly nutritious for your garden. Garden bins or piles sitting on the ground will attract worms through the ground, but worms must be added to stand-alone bins.

Step 5

Secure the lid to the top with elastic cords to keep out raccoons and other pests.

Step 6

Roll can periodically to mix the ingredients. With the bungee cords firmly in place, lay the can on its side and roll it around. (Great fun for kids!) Place the bin back on the risers after it has been mixed. Your compost should be ready in a little over a month.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never add meat or bread to your compost bin. Keep waste from meat-eating animals out as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Large trash can with lid
  • Drill
  • Bricks or concrete blocks
  • Worms
  • Elastic cord
  • Compost ingredients


  • Composting - A Guide For Making Compost at Home

Who Can Help

  • Compost A to Z: A Complete Guide
Keywords: compost bin, kitchen scraps, wiggler worms

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.