Composting in a plastic bag: is it possible? Yes – with the help of anaerobic composting. This is the exact opposite of aerobic composting because you have zero oxygen inside your plastic bag and some compost materials.
You can get your average plastic bag from your local grocery store. Keep note of what size of plastic bag you will need depending on the amount of compost that you want to make.
How to Make Compost Using a Plastic Bag
First, you have to prepare your 3 components: yard waste, soil, and food scrap. Let’s look at these three first and what they include:
- Yard Waste: this includes brown material, such as shredded newspaper, old leaves, and the like.
- Soil: this may include potting soil, regular soil, or any compost to introduce active microorganisms to get the process going.
- Food Scrap: can include shredded leaves. Food waste can be wet and soggy.
Here are the steps to making compost in a plastic bag:
- Pour in your yard waste, followed by the soil, and then the food scrap, in a plastic bag.
- Add a little bit of water so that the content will be slightly moist due to the dry yard waste. You can use your regular garden hose and water source to do this.
Although the food scrap is already a little bit moist, it doesn’t hurt to add a little more moisture since this will be an anaerobic composting process.
- Tie the garbage bag securely so that it will not leak out anything from the inside. This will ensure that the anaerobic process begins.
- Let the garbage bag sit for 6 to 8 weeks in warm sunlight.
- Your finished anaerobic compost will be unraveled once you untie the bag (you can use scissors). Optional/situational: take out some items that didn’t degenerate properly, such as eggshells and the like.
Tips on Composting in a Plastic Bag
So, how do you enhance your compost and speed up the process? Here are some quick tips for you:
Add more soil
For starters, it is best to mix your initial compost with more soil. After that, let it sit out for about 2 weeks to cure. This will help speed up the process of anaerobic composting inside your bag. You can also use soil that has a bit of old compost in it so that it will add a bit more speed to the process.
Get more sunlight
To get the optimum amount of heat for your compost in your plastic bag, a great tip is to take it to a balcony to get heat from the sun to improve the process. If your house doesn’t have a balcony, you can try putting it on top of a roof or a tree. However, make sure you always check it from time to time.
Any place that has a sufficient amount of sunlight will do. Be sure to take it out when it rains or when the weather is bad and chilly. This is why composting is usually mostly done during the spring and summer seasons when the sun is usually shining.
“Rickrolling” your Compost Bag
Once a week, you should roll it around, although we know this is difficult to do. You can ask help from a family member or a friend if the compost bag is too heavy to carry around, especially with XXL garbage bags filled with a ton of soil.
Much like with the normal aerated process, anaerobic composting can also be sped up by using a little “salad toss” to make sure all the components of the compost get evenly degenerated.
Keep it Safe and Secure
If your compost has a ton of food waste that has a lot of moist matter, there’s a likelihood of leaking out when you just use one single bag. For best results, you can use two bags to avoid leakage.
Even if your items don’t contain a lot of mushy or even liquid items, keeping your compost safe and secure will make the compost effective, especially if you have pets around the house.
Mask away odors
You can also wear a face mask to avoid the off-putting smell. After all, compost may have a bit of a pungent smell since it is a combination of various kinds of garbage, especially with food waste. If you have a ton of food waste that includes moist and rotten food items, we think it’s best to work wearing a mask.
Always remember that, like every composting method, this is not a quick process. You have to wait at least 6 to 8 weeks to get your compost result. However, be wary that it might not be perfect depending on the materials that you have (mentioned below) so you can simply redo the process until you get fine compost in the end.
Keep using the same compost
Although we mentioned that 6 to 8 weeks is already an ideal time for this kind of composting method, you can keep the process going to fine-tune it. Meticulous gardeners may find that this composting method works a little slower than most but it does work if you only have a simple garbage bag at home.
Check your materials
Did you find some broken eggshells in your compost? Did you find a rotten potato? Are there a couple of chicken bones in there? When it comes to compost quality, overall, it depends on the type of materials you have and the amount of time that they need to fully degenerate.
If you would like the process to become more effective to your compost, here’s what you can do: you can shred your large items to speed up the process. Here’s what you can shred:
- Food waste
- Twigs and branches
By shredding these large items into small bits, you are speeding up the process because the bacteria won’t have to break them down for you. The bacteria will start decomposing your items at a much quicker rate versus when they weren’t shredded. So, take your time when you do make compost so that the result will become better.
Name: Rebecca Tarvin
Discipline: Integrative biology
Degrees: B.A., Biology, Boston University, 2010; Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin,2017
Rebecca Tarvin is broadly interested in integrating studies of natural history with molecular genomics and phylogenetics. Specifically, she aims to elucidate causal genetic mechanisms underlying novel traits, characterize phenotypic diversification at macro and micro-evolutionary scales, and identify factors that promote and constrain biodiversity.
She also likes to write about eco-friendly lifestyle and other material alternatives that are eco-friendly, aside from other ways to save Mother Earth