DIY Indoor Compost Bin

My mom has agreed to let us plant an 8′ x 8′ garden in her backyard this year. Though she claims that she’s only going to “supervise” the project, I have a feeling she’s just as excited as we are about working the soil and growing our own veggies.

For a few years now, she’s had something of compost pile in the far corner of the yard. In it she dumps grass clippings, dried flowers, and the occasional pile of peelings. As we talked about digging up the now rich soil to put in the garden, the thought occurred to me that Angie and I could also be adding to this pile to make even more soil for garden. So I Googled indoor compost bins.

I was particularly fascinated by the Japanese bokashi bins but the additive alone was $15 a bag. Seems crazy to me to pay to compost. I did like the spout on the side of the bin for removing some of the compost tea though. And that got me thinking too.

We could make our own spouted bin, one that we could easily integrate into our small apartment.

We found this 2-gallon Igloo Cooler at our local Goodwill Store for $4.99.

Igloo Cooler

After cleaning it up, Angie drilled a series of holes in the lid for ventilation.


While this probably would have been good enough to serve as a proper compost bin, I wanted to make sure no odors would escape. I tried to find an activated charcoal filter in the pet section of Walmart (the kind used to keep kitty litter odors at a minimum) but they were out. I ultimately ended up using an air conditioner filter that I already had. I cut the filter to fit the lid and glued it inside using a hot glue gun.


The lid of the cooler is hollow so I put 4 TBS of baking soda in through the holes (using a small funnel). I’m hoping this will reinforce the filter in keeping odors out.


The resulting compost bin fits easily underneath the sink in our kitchen.


The base composting layer is made up of shredded newspaper and a little potting soil. Once we accumulate a layer of food scraps, we’ll add more newspaper and soil to the mix. When the bin is full, we’ll dump it into the larger outdoor bin at my mom’s house and start over.

This isn’t our first foray into composting but it is our first attempt at an indoor compost bin. Getting back into the swing of recycling and reusing things is a priority for us and composting is a step in that direction. Not only will it help keep food scraps out of the landfill and reduce methane gas, but it will allow us to recycle waste into a usable product – nutrient rich soil. It’s a win-win for us and the environment.

Thinking of making your own bin? Here are some tips on what to compost:


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