Composting: The Absolute Easiest Way to Drastically Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

vegetables on cutting board with compost bin on kitchen countertop


Let’s be honest for a second: being an eco-hero is no easy task. 


Our society is not set up for sustainability. So when you choose to use bamboo toilet paper or purchase local, in-season produce, it’s not conveniently placed near the check-out aisle. 


You have to go out of your way to make choices that are healing for our planet. We want to take a moment to acknowledge and praise you for that. 🙏 Thank you. 


But there’s one action that doesn’t take much effort at all. And this simple act significantly reduces your personal carbon footprint… 


Composting is the single easiest way to drastically reduce your carbon footprint. 


You can compost food scraps, paper products, yard waste, and more. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty further down, but just know — whether you live in a 10th floor apartment or have 3 acres of forested land — it’s easy to compost. 

Why Composting Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

There is one misconception that we need to tackle when it comes to composting: 


Landfill ≠ Compost


A landfill is not the same as a compost. It’s a little counterintuitive — because you think a landfill is just burying waste in the ground, right? How is that different from putting waste in a compost? 


The critical difference between a landfill and a compost are the conditions of decomposition. 


  • Landfills are packed tightly and often buried, meaning all decomposition occurs anaerobically (without oxygen). 
  • Composts are loosely piled and turned often, so aerobic decomposition (with oxygen) occurs. 

Food waste that decomposes anaerobically (in a landfill) produces methane. 

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is roughly 30x more destructive than carbon dioxide. And when you put organic matter (eg. plant-based materials such as food waste, wood and paper products, and grass or leaves) into a landfill, it produces copious amounts of methane.1


When those same organic materials decompose aerobically in a compost, the methane is nearly non-existent. 


So that’s why composting is so critical to curbing climate change, and why it’s an effective way for you to lower your carbon footprint. 


outdoor compost bin enclosed from animals

How to Compost — Regardless of Where You Live

You might think you can’t compost because you don’t have the space or because you don’t have time. But I’m here to tell you that you have plenty of both. Composting doesn’t take as much effort as you think, and there are often shortcuts and workarounds to common obstacles.


Here are 4 different ways you can start composting tomorrow.  

1. Set up a compost in your yard 

Setting up a home compost doesn’t take much work. It can be as simple as choosing a spot and starting a pile. Here are a few things you’ll want to consider before selecting your location and structure. 

  • Do you need to keep pets or critters out? 
    • If so, you may want to go with a box that has holes or mesh on the top and sides. Another option is to create or buy a tumbler compost which is essentially an enclosed compost that is mounted so you can turn it regularly. 
    compost bin sitting outside in the yard
    • Do you live in a warm or cold climate? 
      • You need plenty of heat for decomposition to occur. If you live in the north, put your compost where the sun shines directly on it. 
    • Do you live in a wet or dry climate? 
      • Your compost needs to retain a bit of moisture to decompose properly. If you live somewhere hot and dry, put your compost in the shade where moisture won’t evaporate as quickly. Also consider placing it near a water source so you can add moisture when needed. 
    • Are you adding yard waste to your compost? 
      • Convenience is key to a successful compost. If you are going to be raking up leaves or grass clippings, consider where it would be convenient to add your yard waste to the compost. 

    If you’re going to start your own compost, we recommend checking out this EPA resource: Composting at Home. They’ll give you the basics to know more about how to care for your compost — like how often to turn it and when it will be ready for use. 

    2. Drop off your compost at a commercial facility 

    This is a great option for apartment dwellers, or anyone who just doesn’t want to keep a compost on their property. 


    There are many commercial composts and farms that allow you to drop off your kitchen scraps for free. Just grab a 5-gallon bucket to collect your compost throughout the week then dump it in their pile! 


    Be sure to check what your particular facility allows and doesn’t allow, because it can be different depending on the size and temperatures their particular compost reaches. 

    3. Schedule a compost pick-up service 

    By far the easiest way to compost is to schedule a pick-up service. Try Googling them in your area, or check the Litterless site to find a service near you. You’ll typically pay a monthly fee for a bin that you can pull out to the curb once a week. 


    It’s often surprisingly cheap, but varies a lot by location. 

    4. Try a bucket compost 

    If you have limited space, a bucket compost can work amazingly well. We recommend using vermiculture (read: adding worms) in order to help the decomposition. Check out Loop Closing for more info on vermiculture. 

    What You Should Put in Your Compost… And What You Shouldn’t

    eggshells are great for compost

    Things you can (and should) compost:


    • Fruit and veggie scraps
    • Egg shells 
    • Stale or moldy breads
    • Coffee grounds and tea bags
    • Grass clippings
    • Leaves
    • Wood chips or other yard waste
    • Paper and cardboard
    • Natural fabrics like 100% cotton, linen, or bamboo (cut into shreds) 

    Things you shouldn’t put in your compost:** 


    • Meat and dairy products
    • “Compostable” plastics 
    • Yard waste that has been treated with herbicides or pesticides
    • Polyester or synthetic materials
    • Pet waste

    **Note: Many of these items can be put in an industrial compost. So if you drop off or use a pick up service, be sure to check the specific do’s and don’ts of your compost service. This is because industrial composts reach much higher temperatures than homemade backyard composts. 

    Can You Compost Toilet Paper and Paper Towels?

    Since Cloud Paper is a bamboo paper company, you might be wondering — can you compost toilet paper and paper towels? 


    Paper products, including bamboo paper products, are compostable. But there’s a big caveat here: 


    You shouldn’t compost paper with grease, cleaning chemicals, or bodily fluids on it. 


    That means toilet paper should pretty much never be composted (unless you have a composting toilet which is a different story). 


    You can compost Cloud Paper toilet roll wraps and toilet paper cores. 


    Paper towels may or may not be compostable depending on what you’ve used them for. For instance, if you’ve used one to dry your hands directly after washing with soap and water, it’s okay to compost — though we would encourage you to use a reusable towel next time! #FreeTheTrees 🙃


    If you’ve used a paper towel to clean up some oil or pick up after puppy 💩… it’s best to put those in the trash. Also avoid composting paper towels you’ve used with chemical cleaners ( check out some of our favorite biodegradable cleaners in this post)!

    Are You Ready to Start Composting?

    We hope this has given you a good idea of why composting is important and how to get started. 


    One report by the U.N. found that reducing methane emissions is the most powerful action we can take to slow climate change.2 


    And whether that means you start a backyard compost, get your yard waste picked up by a composting service, or simply keep your food scraps in a bucket until the end of the week — you’ll be doing your part to reduce methane and save our planet. 💪


    Didn’t know why composting is so powerful? Share this blog with your friends so they can learn too!


    compost dirt for gardening