How to choose the right compost bin
Wednesday, 9 May 2012 | HOTBIN Composting
You can compost for free by piling your garden and food waste up in a corner, however the paid for options do offer significant benefits. So how do you decide whether to pay 20, 60, 185 or even 900 pounds (yes really!) for a compost bin? You 'justify' the cash by convincing yourself of the 'value'.
We show you how to do this by checking the composting features meet your needs at a price you can afford.
Sounds like hard work - why not just go online, look for a 5 star ratings and best price - job done. Most of the online reviews look like this: 'arrived/did not arrive' on time (score 1-5), it was 'easy/hard' to set up (score 1-5). I'd let you know how it works! The all important bit are missing and few people return 12 months later to let you know if it worked and how well.
We can summarise the process of how do choose the 'right compost bin’ or the 'best compost bin' for you into seven steps:
Step 1 - WHY
Step 2- WHERE
Step 3 - WHAT & WHEN
Step 4 – EFFORT
Step 5 – HOW
Step 6 – CHECK
Step 7 – MATCH
Before we go any further, let's consider your time and effort to read this article. You might have the time and interest in composting to fully research the topic - if so read the detail below, but many will just want a 'fast track' to help them make a quick decision with a degree of confidence that they are choosing a one that will work.
Reading between the lines - how to spot the vendor marketing hype (that’is the polite term!).
For those who want to look into the detail, here is a little more depth around the seven steps to help you choose a compost bin
Step 1 - Consider your composting goals:
Step 2 - Review your available space and location for the compost bin:
Step 3 - Review the volume of garden and food waste you produce
In my experience, very few composters accurately know how many litres (or Kgs) of waste they produce. Very few have any real desire to record and measure it either.
Choosing the right compost bin size is also further complicated as compost bins can (given the right conditions to achieve ‘hot composting’) compost 32 times faster than a competitor bin that only facilitates ‘cold composting. So 20 litres of waste a week in one bin would rapidly break down within a week, but in another bin build up over time and need a 600 litre bin.
Step 4 – Consider if you want to ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ compost?
The major benefits of ‘hot’ composting over ‘cold’ composting are:
Find out more by reading our post on Hot versus Cold Composting.
Step 5 – Consider how much time and effort you are willing to spend on composting
This is hard – everyone tends to answer - ‘none / minimal’. The more a vendor knows this is critical to your choice, the more pressure to use the term ‘easy’ and the bigger the potential expectation gap and likely hood of user disappointment. There is always some effort (eg collecting food, turning, mixing, shredding). In our experience, things can be made very easy by habitually following simple method-steps. But investing the time to form habits can be challenging – especially at the start when people perceive the habits are taking more time not saving time.
So, now you have a clear picture of what you want. Next, how do you check and match the compost bin against your composting objectives?
Step 6 – Build a compost bin feature list
Build a feature list, locate the top 10 commercial bins, score each feature, eliminate those compost bins that do not fit your needs to produce a short list; then weight/score the remaining compost bins to find the best match.
Step 7 – Assess which compost bin will deliver the best price/performance
Rate (Score) the competence of each compost bin against each feature, ie establish the performance and derive and overall value for money score - the million dollar question!
Commercial product managers do this kind of work as their day job – but it is likely very few gardeners or food waste recyclers have the time or inclination to do this.
If you have both; follow this link to the ‘compost bin competitive evaluation sheet’. You will find 12 widely available compost bins types and brands professionally analysed. You can play around with the scores and weighting to see which you think is best.
I said in the introduction, you can compost for nothing (£0s) by just piling stuff up in an open heap. To justify the cash outlay you have to generate 'value' and you do this by checking the compost bin features deliver against your composting objectives at a price you can afford.
We hope the above tips combined with the tools in the links will help you create 'value' and help you decide which compost is right for you.