By Barbra Bright, Houzz
These days my most requested cabinet accessory is a compost receptacle. With recycling and garbage bins, it makes a trio that is the cornerstone of waste management for the kitchen.
I’m not sure why all my clients seem to have acquired a newfound love of gardening along with a desire to amend their soil with the nutrient-rich scraps from their kitchen — but I do know how to help them out. Whatever your reason for wanting to compost, here are some clever places to hide that pile of decomposing food.
Pacific Northwest Cabinetry, original photo on Houzz
1. Pullout cabinet. Gone are the days when the only place for a compost bucket is on the kitchen counter. In this space, the pail stays out of sight until the cabinet door is opened. Recessed next to the trash can, it is easily accessible.
Although this stainless steel pail is lined with a compostable green bag for easy cleanup, it’s not necessary since the pail is dishwasher safe. Simply throw it in the dishwasher to keep it clean and fresh.
2. Recessed countertop bin. This stainless steel composting system is flush-mounted into the quartz countertop. It collects food waste in an undercounter pail that is easily removed for cleaning. The tight-fitting lid helps to mitigate any odors.
Does a countertop bin encourage composting? It just might. This flush-mounted bin is the antithesis of the adage “Out of sight, out of mind,” and yet still discreet. Still, some might prefer an expanse of uninterrupted countertop and choose a hidden bin instead.
Related: Search Countertops by Material Type
Amazing Spaces, original photo on Houzz
3. Cutting board cutout. Composting is easily achieved while using this cutting board. Throw food scraps through the hole, and they fall directly into the compost bin below. Do keep in mind that once the cutting board is no longer needed, it’s best to put a lid on the bin to keep flies and smells at bay.
tall glass architecture, original photo on Houzz
4. Custom drawer. The drawer of this 18-inch garbage and recycling cabinet has been cleverly customized to be a compost receptacle that’s easily accessible yet out of sight. Prep your meals on the island and sweep any food scraps into the open drawer. Any scraps not compostable can be swept into the garbage bin below by simply closing the compost drawer.
I love this purposeful cabinet. My only caveat is that you might consider lining the drawer for easier cleaning.
5. Stainless steel drawer. Another option for a compost drawer is to line it with stainless steel inserts. That way when you’re ready to empty and clean, the liners are easily removable. And because the inserts are stainless, they can be washed in the dishwasher.
Affecting Spaces, original photo on Houzz
6. Undersink drawer. Now here’s a better use of the limited and often awkward space below the sink: hiding the compost, recycling and garbage.
7. Under the sink. Can’t find a dedicated space for your compost bin? There’s always the under-the-sink cabinet.
8. Retrofitted roll-out. If you already have a roll-out feature in your cabinet, you can retrofit it for compost quite easily by simply placing a stainless steel pail on it. Nothing fancy, but it works — especially if it’s located beneath a cutting board.
Studio Hillier, original photo on Houzz
9. In plain sight. All the previous examples are hidden compost bins. But this cool kitchen incorporates its waste management system out in the open, as part of the design.
The island’s shape mirrors the curve of the kitchen and houses a trio of metal bins: for compost, recycling and garbage. These circular metal bins mimic the curves of the kitchen and add a slight industrial element and a bit of texture to the blond wood cabinetry. Best of all, the island’s countertop has a cutout for food scraps to go directly into the compost bin.
Composting is great for the environment, because it reduces our reliance on landfills for waste disposal. Organic waste is the largest component of solid waste in landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and there it contributes to climate change by releasing methane gas. The gas is produced by decaying food lying in the stagnant, airless environment of the landfill — yuck.
In addition to reducing waste and greenhouse gases, composting has other benefits. Adding compost to soil increases water retention and minimizes the need for fertilizer and pesticides. Compost-enriched soil results in healthier fruits and vegetables.
Go online and you will find lists of compostable food items. Here’s just a sampling of what to add to your kitchen compost to reduce your organic waste footprint, and what not to compost
• Vegetable and fruit scraps
• Coffee grinds, filters and tea bags
• Cooked and uncooked grains
• Old spices
• Stale cereals
• Old bread, crackers, cookies — anything made of flour
• Meat or fish scraps
• Grease, oil
• Dairy products
The “don’t” items decompose more slowly than vegetation waste. They are more odorous and can attract bugs and small animals when added to a larger compost pile outdoors.