Compost Tumblers vs Compost Bins: Pros & Cons

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Composting toilets are unsettling. Yes, they save a tremendous amount of water, and are very easy to set up compared to a septic system, but no one wants to look at what someone left behind.

Composting bins are another story. They are used to compost your leftovers so that they can be placed in your garden. It’s also a great way to reduce the food that is placed in the landfill. If you are committed to composting trash then you  have two choices of containers to choose from, tumbler or bin.

A spin bin composting tumbler is good choice for a person doesn’t want too much interaction with their trash. With a spin bin, you can stack the leftovers in the bin and spin it every so often. Because of the spin action, this type of composter will come with a lid and turning handle. If you intend to compost for the foreseeable future, be sure to pick one that is sturdy, with a sturdy hand crank and that will withstand the harshness of your outdoor weather. People like tumblers because it speeds up the length of decomposition. Most batches are done in little over a month. Most tumbler composters have holes which accelerates the aeration process and speeding decomposition time. When it is time to use your compost, you can easily bring a wheelbarrow over to your tumbler bin and transfer your products. Tumblers can be more expensive than bins and they are 100% pet proof which is important because you are likely going to leave it outside.

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As you add food to the composter it tends to get heavy and can be a chore to turn. When the bin is about 2/3 full it takes a strong arm to turn it. This is one of the advantages of choosing a composting bin for your composting needs.

Bins don’t have the heavy construction that tumbles have and they don’t’ need it. Most often they sit and are handled by the composter.  They have an open bottom which makes for easy drainage. They empty from a lower port as well. They have a pretty large capacity because they are not meant to be mobile.  They have 2-3 times more volume than tumblers, depending upon the model. With all of this room comes a tradeoff; the plastic for composting bins is usually not as sturdy as for tumblers. This done not often bode well for long-time outside usage. The sun can make it weak and the cold can make it brittle.

Another concern when using bins is that they aren’t designed for mixing the compost. It can be difficult to get your shovel or pitchfork down to turn your mix. Since you aren’t able to mix the compost, this can extend your decomposing time to about double that of the bin. The slow turn around can be problematic because some of the mix will be ready to use while another portion in the bin is not. This is why a bin with a double bin, or “continuous use”  composter bin is best. You can fill up one compartment to the max, let it “finish” and then proceed to use the other compartment. This way you will have a continuous supply of compost mix.


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