Use a Kitchen Compost Pail to Save Your Scraps

Posted on Feb 15 2012 - 1:26am by Mike Lieberman

You know what you can compost

…But you don’t know where to store it before you compost it.

It’s too much of a hassle to bring it to your compost bin each time. I hear you on that.

This is why it’s important to have a kitchen compost pail readily accessible.

6 Features Your Kitchen Compost Pail Should Have

  • A lid that fits tightly.
  • Enough space to fit your food scraps.
  • Style – which is debatable.
  • Easily washable.
  • Easily transportable. Preferably with a handle.
  • Fits on your kitchen counter or close to your cutting board.

If aesthetics is your thing, there are some stylish kitchen compost pails available.

It’s not necessary to buy one though. The next time you go to the supermarket or deli, ask them if they have any 1-gallon containers with a lid that they were throwing away.

These work perfectly.

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The pail that I use I picked up for a few dollars at my local health food store.

Every few days you can dump the content of the pail into a larger bucket or into your compost bin.

The main purpose of the kitchen compost pail is to make that it’s as easy as possible for you to store and compile your food scraps.

Your Turn

In the comments below, let me know where you have your kitchen compost pail.

28 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. April February 15, 2012 at 8:37 am -

    I use a cheap stock pot on my counter. It has a lid with small vents and I don’t notice the smell at all. I think I may move under my sink though just so it’s easier to access for the kiddos as it’s currently behind my sink in garden window. After reading your post, I thought of the Sun laundry tubs, too. No need to spend $30 on a composting container.

  2. Jody February 15, 2012 at 9:36 am -

    I just use a coffee container and reuse produce bags to line the inside. Works like a charm!

  3. Elizabeth Fisher February 15, 2012 at 10:40 am -

    For the last couple of years we have used a large plastic bowl.  No cover.  It sits on the kitchen counter next to the sink.  I first take a couple pieces of newspaper and shred and put in the bottom.  Every time add scraps add another layer of shredded paper.  Absolutely no smell.  We empty if about every 4th day.  Very easy to clean, just rinse out and again put in the shredded paper.  We used to use the covered ice cream pail but with a day those are already starting to rot it seems and would smell each time opened.  The open container works fine and we have not even had problem with flies or fruit flies.  No extra plastic being used, either.

  4. Veronica Flores February 15, 2012 at 10:44 am -

    We just use an old empty oxyclean bucket, and occasionally a larger bowl if I’m canning and have tons of scrap (though depending on what’s being canned, a lot of scrap goes into the crockpot for stock as well!)

  5. Mike Lieberman February 15, 2012 at 10:54 am -

    Exactly. No need at all.

  6. Mike Lieberman February 15, 2012 at 10:54 am -

    I’m sure it does.

  7. Mike Lieberman February 15, 2012 at 10:55 am -

    Def don’t want a smell!

  8. Mike Lieberman February 15, 2012 at 10:55 am -

    Great reusage!

  9. Mary C. February 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm -

    Nice tips 🙂
    I have one of the super old recycle totes our city used to use by the kitchen door. Mom just tossed stuff into it for me to put in the compost later.
    A friend of mine uses something like a protein shake jar to hold his scraps and keeps it in the freezer so it doesn’t get smelly or attract flies.

  10. Meg_maureen February 15, 2012 at 2:36 pm -

    I use a cookie jar from a yard sale. I also freeze it for at least one full day before and then thaw it before adding it to my worm bin. this kills the fly larvae and really cuts down on bugs

  11. Mike Lieberman February 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm -

    Good reuse.

  12. Mike Lieberman February 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm -

    Cutting down on bugs is a good thing.

  13. Meemsnyc February 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm -

    I use one of those large plastic Maxwell House coffee containers.  It’s perfect.

  14. Mike Lieberman February 16, 2012 at 7:52 am -

    Sounds it!

  15. Elizabeth Fisher February 16, 2012 at 8:46 am -

    Definitely!  I would recommend.  Not sure if the newspaper may be absorbing any smells or that because it is open to air is not rotting, just drying out.  Also, especially in the colder months (Oct-May) it adds “brown”  to the “green” of the veg and fruit trimmings.  Probably good reason our compost bin can go year round even surrounded by snow 5 months of the year.

  16. Bekah February 20, 2012 at 7:46 am -

    I use an empty gallon ice cream bucket.  It has a lid and a handle…very easy.

  17. Mike Lieberman February 20, 2012 at 9:04 am -

    Good cal on that!

  18. Compost Junkie February 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm -

    Hey Mike

  19. Mike Lieberman February 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm -

    Good call Dave. Can definitely have that, but not necessary. Just make sure to dump it every few days. Don’t want that stuff on the counter forever.

  20. Compost Dave February 20, 2012 at 8:39 pm -

     True enough, however, up here in the Great White North of Canada, sometimes we tend to minimize going outdoors at this time of year. 🙂 Nonetheless, great article Mike.

  21. Elizabeth Fisher February 21, 2012 at 10:48 am -

    Hi Dave, visited your website…interesting info there.  We also are in the north….we just keep a path beat down through the snow to get to the compost heap.  We have been somewhat light on snow this year.

    As I said earlier I have great luck with just an open bowl on the counter, scraps alternating with shredded newspaper.  No fuss, no smell , no bugs, nothing rotting.  

  22. Michelle A. February 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm -

    We keep our compost in the back yard, but I keep a bowl for composting near my kitchen sink.  Great tips though for those who don’t have the luxury of composting outside. 😉

  23. Mike Lieberman February 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm -

    Barely have the space in the apartment.

  24. Karen March 1, 2012 at 8:42 am -

    We have a little white pail composter from World Marketplace that we bought at a garage sale. I’m able to keep about a weeks worth of food scraps, coffee and tea grounds, leftover vegetables, etc. in. There is a filter in the lid so we smell nothing and my compost dirt is BEAUTIFUL!!!

  25. Mike Lieberman March 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm -


  26. Wendy R March 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm -

    I just throw scraps in a bowl  and then take it outside to the compost barrel when it’s full (and kinda stinky).

  27. Mike Lieberman March 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm -

    That works.

  28. Arwen ~*~ June 18, 2013 at 9:35 pm -

    Which works great outside to water your plants, it works fine inside to drain the compost as well. Just use a smaller container and keep one of the lids. Naturally nothing needed to suck up the moist, just draining holes to do the opposite. Especially a nice solution when the scraps go into the direction of worm-bin ore Bokashi bucket on a kind of daily base. Like worm-bins, fermenting the scraps into Bokashi is a very good alternative to composting. It go’s fast, can be done indoors in little space, usually it is ready within a few weeks, and the smell (just after a while and when the bucket is open) is rather that of sauerkraut or cider. Sure worth trying! Oh, and the worms do love it too, so it can help providing them a steady food-supply 🙂

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