Finished system
FA info icon.svgAngle down icon.svgProject data
Authors Hannah Cantrell
Location Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Instance of Compost bin
OKH Manifest Download

I created a compost system for a 2 person household in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. I wanted the system to be simple easy to use and made from things around the home. The upkeep of this system is straightforward. There are links provided to help troubleshoot and learn more about making your own compost

Background[edit | edit source]

In this household there are 2 people who cummulate a fair amount of green waste and yard trimmings along with food scraps from the kitchen. One major concern was deer being able to access the bin, and a want was for quick compost turnover with ease. This was the reasoning for the 2 bin method that would not only insulate but allow for airflow to get to the compost from all corners. This is a very easy to do project with things one may have laying around the house!

Criteria[edit | edit source]

Criteria Constraints Weight
Accessibility System should be easily built and used by anyone in the household. It also should be hassle free to clean, turn and move around the yard. 9
Functionality Able to take in compost from a home that cooks often so has plenty of food scraps as well as garden and lawn waste. Stands up to midwest climate. Keeps food scraps away from deer and squirrels. 10
Appropriate Use materials that were around the house as a quick daytime project and also materials that would otherwise be considered waste. Minimizes cost. 10
Move-ablitiy This system is not needed to last a long time but rather should be able to be deconstructed quickly in case of winter storms or discontinuing the project. 8

Construction[edit | edit source]

Materials[edit | edit source]

These are the materials used to complete this project along with their costs.

Quantity Material Source Cost ($) Total ($)
3 18 gallon storage bin w/ lids Walmart 4.50 9.00
2 Paper bags Grocery store 0.00 0.00
1 Roll of duct tape Walmart 4.99 4.99
8 Cans Grocery Store 2.00 16.00
1 6 pack of bungee cords Target 7.99 7.99
Total Cost 36.00

How to Build[edit | edit source]

Figure 1: First design drawing: stacked bin system

Design your project and make adjustments for the materials you have access to.

Figure 2: Gather materials.

Gather your materials. This specific system required: A drill with a 5/16 drill bit (small holes are best), 2 storage bins 1 lid, 8 cans taped/glued together end to end, 2 paper bags for insulation, 2 bungee cords to secure from pests such as deer and racoons.

Figure 3: Drill holes.

Drill holes in one of the storage bins in all of the sides, bottom and lid all 2-3 inches apart.

Figure 3: Place cans

Tape 4 pairs of the cans together end to end, place one pair in each corner of the bin without holes.

Figure 3: place insulation.

(Optional) Place torn paper bags in the bin between the cans. This is to insulate the system.

Figure 3: Put the bins together.

Place the empty bin with holes into the bin without holes on top of the cans and insulation.

Figure 3: Secure system.

Secure the system with 2 bungee cords.

Instructional Video:

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

A guide to maintain and operate the stacked bin composting system.

Schedule[edit | edit source]

  • Turning compost (3-7 days/week)
  • Adding food scraps and browns (carbon materials) as needed
  • Checking temperature and moisture
  • When enough compost has accumulated, stop adding food scraps and continue turning and monitoring temperature and ratios.
  • Harvest finished compost
  • Possible cleaning of bins
  • Cleaning of bins

Troubleshooting[edit | edit source]

From the first design to the second, these were some adjustments I made. I also made a flow chat to help figure out what is wrong with your compost and how to fix it.

Problem Suggestion
Compost not decomposing compost not heating, add insulation in first bin
Compost is smelly add holes for aeration, be sure carbon to nitrogen ratios are good.
Animals getting into the bin secure with bungee cords, if smaller pests like rats are your problem look into purchasing vermin mesh and enclosing system in that.


Conclusion[edit | edit source]

An at home composting system is achievable for just about anybody who has the desire. With trial and error of what works best for you, it can be easy to create a compost system that is tailored to your climate and needs.

FA info icon.svgAngle down icon.svgPage data
Part of Engr305 Appropriate Technology
Keywords composting
SDG SDG12 Responsible consumption and production
Authors Hannah Cantrell
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Organizations Cal Poly Humboldt
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 5 pages link here
Aliases How to make a stacked compost bin, How to make a stacked compost bin (Hannah), DIY compost bin projects/stacked type by Hannah
Impact 514 page views
Created May 8, 2020 by Hannah Cantrell
Modified January 29, 2024 by Felipe Schenone
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