Earth day is right around the corner, April 22 to be exact. Celebrate by starting a compost pile with your littles! I’m all about reducing waste and using what you’ve got. After all, I started a blog and wrote a book called Creating Really Awesome Free Things! Turning what would be wasted wood floor samples into jewelry organizers is my jam.
Andy and I try our best to be conscience of how our actions effect our planet. We always use reusable bags, walk and bike as often as possible, recycle as much as we can, support local farms, conserve water, and compost all the things. Andy even made us a DIY compost bin out of old fence posts we found in a neighbors trash. Now that we have 2 little ones, we are trying our best to teach them the value of caring for our Earth too. Composting is a small thing that makes a big impact on your trashcan and the Earth!
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The low down on composting for kids
Kids want to do everything their grown ups are doing, and composting is no different. It’s all about getting kids involved and letting them help! Lucky for us, composting is all about digging in the dirt and kids are pros at that. Our family of 4 went from filling a 64 gallon trash can weekly to one bag of trash in a 32 gallon trash can.
Start by teaching your child why you want to compost. What is composting? Composting is how the Earth recycles! In nature, leaves fall on the forest floor, and after time the leaves and other plant debris break down and are recycled into plant food. Here are the 6 ingredients needed to make compost:
- Green stuff (nitrogen)
- Brown Stuff (carbon)
- Air (oxygen)
- Water (moisture)
- Bugs (micro organisms)
- Heat (sun)
Take a little field trip outside and observe the plant decay in the yard or at the park. If you have any thick bushes near by, take a peek behind or under the bushes and you’ll likely find decomposition in action. If possible, visit a farm or spot that you know already has a large compost pile. In Austin, Boggy Creek Farm has a giant compost piles that kids can investigate. Here’s a scoop of leaves from under our bushes that are in the early stages of decomposing.
3. Build a compost pile
Start a small pile and make it bigger as your family feels ready. You don’t need anything special to compost. You can literally start a compost pile in the corner of the backyard or in a large bucket or cardboard box. A large bucket and cardboard box are not permanent solutions, since they aren’t big and sturdy enough to keep compost over time. But, it is a good way to get started and to show kids composting in action. Andy and I started with a pile in the corner of our yard and graduated to a DIY compost bin made out of recycled fence posts. I’m always amazed that our bin never overflows, and we put a ridiculous amount of stuff in our compost pile.
4. Let your toddler/kids help
Apples and oranges for snack? Perfect! Add the peels and cores to the compost pile! Lint from the dryer? Toss it in! Eggs for breakfast? Compost them!
We keep this stainless steel compost bin with these biodegradable, compostable bags next to our sink and toss in fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, tea bags, paper towels, and nut shells. We take the food scraps to the compost bin once a day. When Maxwell and I are outside, sometimes he fills up his little bucket with leaves and yard trimmings and adds them to the compost pile. We’ve been composting for 6 years, and the one lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t really mess it up. Now, there are things you can do to make it decompose faster, like turning your compost or adding water. But, we don’t do anything special and our pile is doing awesome. One thing to note: Never add diseased plants, diapers, pet droppings, meat, foil, glass, plastic, or metal.
5. Bugs and worms
Micro organisms are an essential ingredient to your compost pile, but all you need to do is make sure that your compost pile has a little soil in it. There are plenty of creepy crawlers in a your soil, promise. If your compost pile is on the ground, you’re golden. If not, add in a few scoops of soil depending on the size of you pile. Now that our compost pile is mature, Max loves to dig in the pile and hunt for worms and then add them to our garden.
Here’s a free printable composting worksheet to help explain composting to the kids! Don’t forget to compost the coloring sheet when you’re done! Printable made for C.R.A.F.T. by Messes to Memories.
How to download the composting worksheet
To download the free composting worksheet for kids, just sing up for my newsletter using the form below. Next thing you know, the composting coloring page will arrive in your inbox ready for you to print and use!
You’ll be surprised at the amount of room you will free up in your trash can by composting. Another added benefit of composting is free plant food! I love to use our mulch in potted plants. Composting is a little thing that you and your family can do everyday that will make a big impact on our Earth! Happy Earth Day!