Here at Greatist, we believe in taking a day off. Instead of our regular programming Saturdays, our writers get a chance to write about living the greatist lifestyle and, basically, whatever they want. This is one of those awesome articles. Enjoy!

“Waste not, want not.” “Make a happy plate.” “Finish your meal, there are starving children in China.” These were the phrases that I grew up hearing at the dinner table. Not just once and a while, but every single night. My dad grew up during the depression, so it’s understandable that this was part of his meal time vocabulary. Even today, I hear him say this to my kids.

No wonder I experience the cringe factor every time I scrape food into the sink when I’m doing dishes. I may not say “waste not, want not,” but I definitely think it.

Newsflash: kids waste food, every day, at every meal. So what’s a mom who grew up hearing about starving children in china supposed to do? Compost, of course.

There are several different ways to compost, but we chose a simple way to incorporate it into our daily routine. We bought a countertop composting can that has a carbon filter in the lid to mitigate any smell. It is easy for everyone to access, especially the kids.

Compost is made up of two parts— browns and greens. Browns are the dry items and greens are the wet ones. Here is a list of a few common things that can be composted:


  • Fall leaves and grass clippings
  • Shredded black and white newspaper
  • Shredded cardboard packaging
  • Old soil
  • Stale spices


  • Any leftover fruit and vegetable scraps such as stems, leaves and bottoms, apple cores, banana peels,or half eaten pieces of fruit that the kids didn’t finish.
  • Coffee grinds
  • Egg shells
  • Tea bags minus the string and staples

And the greatist benefits for our family have been:

  1. The kids are learning the importance of reduce, reuse, and recycle at an early age.
  2. I don’t feel like we are wasting money by wasting food, so meal times are a little less stressful.
  3. Keeping food scraps out of a landfill is good for the environment, because even though organic waste decomposes, it also produces CO2 and methane gas as it breaks down.
  4. My husband’s favorite hobby is gardenin, and we now have the most beautiful fruit and veggie garden, which is quite an accomplishment with Arizona soil.

Whether it’s a small container in the kitchen, or a multi-level worm hotel, composting is easy to do, and with so many different options, anyone can do it, anywhere!