DIY Compost Bin from Up-Cycled Trash Can

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I are trying to decrease our carbon footprint. Of course our goal is always to do so without breaking the bank. Early this spring while planning additions to our garden I stumbled upon information about composting. Composting seemed like a perfect addition since we already recycle. However, compost bins are a special kind of expensive! I mean really, what is SOOO special about that plastic bin to make it cost $90?!?! My dear friend, Pinterest, showed me option to build your own compost bins, but I still wasn’t convinced. After all, we would still be spending around $40 to buy the supplies needed.

One day, it dawned on me. Sitting underneath our deck were 2 trash cans. Our city recently distributed matching trash bins to all the residents, and our 2 trash cans no longer had a purpose. After a few Google searches, I found some pictures of trash can bins turned compost bins. My research into compost bins continued. So what is needed for a successful compost bin?

  • Airflow
  • Moisture
  • “Brown” Items

Items you need:

  • Trash can or even a large Rubbermaid container
  • Drill
  • Large drill bit (1/2″ or larger)
  • Bricks, cinderblocks or wood

Gather all your items outside. A concrete surface would be ideal to allow you to sweep up the plastic shavings. Decide where your compost bin will live. We chose just outside of our side-door exiting the garage because we knew it needed to be in a convenient location for us to actually utilize it.

  1. Take the lid off and set it on the ground. Begin drilling 1/2″ or 3/4″ holes every 2″-3″. The goal is to create a grid of holes on every surface of your container.
  2. Drill holes all around the container itself, even the bottom. Our trash can has wheels on the bottom which affected the grid, but you want the most airflow possible.
  3. Once you have a grid pattern over your whole container/trash can, clean up all the shavings. You aren’t reducing your carbon footprint by leaving plastic out in the environment.
  4. Begin filling your compost bin! Shred apart cardboard, newspaper and printer paper to create a 6″ layer of your “brown” items on the bottom of your bin. See other awesome items to compost below!
    1. Fruits, veggies & their peels
    2. Coffee grounds & coffee filters
    3. Tea bags
    4. Rinsed egg shells (crushed in your garden egg shells deter slugs)
    5. Grass clippings,
    6. Dead & dried leaves
    7. Shredded paper & newspaper
    8. Dryer lint, hair & pet fur
  5. Maintain your compost bin by watering once or twice weekly, enough to keep it moist. Aerate it by rolling it around the yard once a week- the benefit to a round trash can.

Compost No-No’s: Avoid dairy, meat, fats like oil, pet waste, pesticides and coal ashes.


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