The best compost option for you

So you want to do your bit and set up a compost, but are worried it could be a bit complicated and are not quite sure where to start?

Composting is much easier - and cleaner - than you think. The key is finding the set up that works best for your household. Firstly, why is composting so important?

Food waste makes up more than one third of contents in the average Aussie household rubbish bin.

Food scraps thrown in your bin not only take up valuable landfill space, when they break down they can create greenhouse gases - including methane - which affect air quality.

Composting is an environmentally friendly way to dispose of your food scraps. It recycles organic waste into rich fertiliser that can be used to feed your garden and grow you own food.

Four tried-and-tested composting systems

We spoke to four local people with different composting systems to find out what they saw as the pros and cons of each.

Anika's compost tumbler

How it works

I bought a twin-chamber compost tumbler.  All I do is throw in my 'green' organic waste - anything except onion, garlic, citrus peels, meat and dairy - and 'brown' organic material, such as leaves, cardboard and wood chips.

I aim for a 50/50 mix of each and make sure it stays moist.  I use the handle to give it a quick stir every time I throw my scraps in, and once the first chamber is full, I start using the second chamber.  The organic matter turns into compost within months. 

I just place a bucket underneath to empty the compost into when it's ready.  It's super easy - especially for beginners like me - and I like that it's all contained so my dog can't get to it.

Cost:  around $200

The pros and cons for Anika


  • Clean and contained.
  • Easy to use.
  • Plenty of room for our food scraps


  • Comes flat packed so some assembly required.
  • Decent purchase cost.

Alan's DIY compost

How it works

All I did was section off a square area in my backyard using scrap materials such as star pickets, timber boards and chicken wire.

You need to make sure the compost isn't fully enclosed as air needs to get into it.  We  throw all of our fruit and veg scraps in - except for onion and lemon - as well as leaves, paper and dirt. 

I water it every now and then in the warmer weather to make sure it stays moist and use a shovel to turn it over ever few weeks.  Once a year I empty it all out - except for the top layer - mix it up with soil and spread it out over my plants. 

We've had this set up for over 30 years now; it's low maintenance and works well for us.

Cost: Little to no cost (can be made from scrap materials).

The pros and cons for Alan


  • Little to no cost to set up.
  • Not limited by space to add food scraps.
  • Fairly low maintenance.


  • Compost/soil can be heavy to manually turn over.
  • Compost is exposed, so pets mat get in.

Bonnie's multi-tiered worm farm

How it works

We put the worms into the bottom layer of the worm farm and left off the other levels to start off with. 

We started adding our food scraps to the bottom level. Once the layer was full, the next layer was added and the worms gradually made their way up into this area as we started to add food scraps.

Once the very top layer is full, the bottom layer is then taken out and tipped onto the garden. This layer stays off until the other layers are full.

This cycle repeats itself.  We're new to composting but have found the worm farm to be clean and low maintenance.

Cost: $140 ($90 for worm farm and $50 for worms)

The pros and cons for Bonnie


  • Clean and contained.
  • Easy to use.
  • Tap at the bottom gives you 'worm wee', which is also good for your garden.


  • Space is limited so there are times when we can't put our weekly scraps into the worm farm. 
  • The 'moisture mat' used to cover food scraps requires replacing every so often, as it can get mouldy and fall apart

Amy's Bokashi Bucket

How it works

The Bokashi Bucket sits on my bench and I add my food scraps - even meat. 

Every time I put food scraps in I push it down with a potato masher, sprinkle a couple of handfuls of the Bokashi bran and make sure the lid is put tightly back on.

Every few days I use the tap to collect the liquid in a bucket, dilute it with water and pour it over my plants. 

When the bucket is full, I leave it for three weeks, then I dig a small trench and bury it in my garden. I have two buckets on the go at once, so one can be fermenting while I fill up the other one with food scraps. 

It took me some time to get it working well, but I've got the hang of it now and hardly have anything going to landfill which is great.

Cost: $60 for each bucket and Bokashi bran is around $18 a bag.

The pros and cons for Amy


  • Doesn't need much room - can sit on your bench.
  • It takes food scraps including cooked and uncooked meat and fish.
  • There's no need to add extra material like paper or leaves.


  • Space is limited - can fill up quickly.
  • You need to keep stocking up on Bokashi bran and be careful to keep air out as much as possible.

Page last updated: Thursday, 28 May 2020