Home Composting




The County of Kauaʻi provides FREE backyard composting bins to Kauaʻi residents!

Residents are required to watch a short 8 minute video before picking up their bins (see below for video).

Available by appointment at:

  • Kauaʻi Resource Center (KRC) located at 3460 Ahukini Rd. in Līhu‘e, near the airport, in front of the Līhu‘e Refuse Transfer Station.

To schedule a pick-up at the KRC please email solidwaste@kauai.gov with the date and time you'd like to pick-up your bin. Bins will be available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. This location is closed on County Holidays. If you are unable to email, please call the County Recycling Office at 241-4841. We ask that request be made at least 24 hours in advance.

  • Hanalei Initiative Creative Center.

Pick your bin up at the Hanalei Initiative Creative Center (at the Hanalei Center above Bar Acuda) Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 10 am. For more information email hanaleiinitiative@gmail.com

  • 'Aina Ho'okupu O Kilauea, Kilauea Community Agricultural Center

Pick your bin up at 3000 Kilauea Road (across from the Kaua'i Christian Academy) Monday and Wednesday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. For more information email info@ainahookupuokilauea.org

Please review this addendum for more instructions on using your new home composter.  Addendum-to-composting-video.pdf(PDF, 184KB)

Please view the "County Composting" video below. You do not need a special vehicle to transport your bin. The bin breaks down into two parts that nests inside itself.


Composting is a natural form of recycling fruit and vegetable scraps and green/yard waste into a rich soil amendment, but why compost?

This short informational video produced in 2017 for compost awareness week discusses why composting is so important.

(this is not the instructional video provided by the County, see above)

And while Kaua‘i does not have a green bin program, we do have free County of Kaua‘i Earth Machine compost bins or you can purchase your own locally at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or Costco.

Home Composting

What to Compost:

1/3 Nitrogen (examples)-

Fruits and Vegetables scraps, Coffee Grounds and Filters, Green Yard Waste, Green Houseplants, Hair and Fur, Manure from Chickens, Goats, Cattle.

2/3 Carbon (examples)-

Eggshells, Tea bags, Nut shells, Shredded paper, and Cardboard (toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, paper egg cartons), Brown Yard Waste, Dried Out Houseplants, Hay and Straw, Dry Leaves, Sawdust, Wood chips, Cotton, Linen, Wool Rags, Dryer and Vacuum Cleaner Lint, Fireplace (wood) ashes, Chopsticks, toothpicks, Popsicle sticks.

What Not to Compost and Why:

Black walnut tree leaves or twigs

  • Releases substances that might be harmful to plants

Coal or charcoal ash

  • Might contain substances harmful to plants

Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt)

  • Creates odor problems and attracts pests such as rodents and flies

Diseased or insect-ridden plants

  • Diseases or insects might survive composting and maybe transferred back to other plants

Fats, oils and grease (FOG)

  • Creates odor problems and attracts pests such as rodents and flies

Meat, Fish, Bones, Whole Eggs, Shrimp and Clam shells

  • Creates odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies

Pet waste (dog or cat feces, used Kitty litter)

  • Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans

Cut Grass/Lawn Clippings. Try Grasscycling or compost using the Heap Method instead

  • Grass will takes up a lot of space in your compost bin

Download the Earth Machine manual(PDF, 1MB) .

For "FAST" Backyard Composting

Vary the materials, in order to provide a balanced food supply for microorganisms. 2/3 brown and 1/3 green. Remember to tend your pile and keep track of what you throw in. A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad.

Mix all materials thoroughly instead of making layers.

Make scratches and cuts in stems and leaves, and chop up fruit and veggies to provide entry for microorganisms. Size matters because earthworms, fungi and bacteria do not have teeth.

Turn frequently for air flow. Aerating the pile allows decomposition to occur at a faster rate than anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions.

Maintain ample moisture. Pile should be as wet as a kitchen sponge.


It's easy to compost in your own backyard using do-it-yourself techniques like constructing hoop wire bins or making wood pallet bins, using the (pit) burial method or composting in heaps.

Heap method - build a “heap” (pile) of Green Waste. The "heap" needs to be a minimum of 3' tall x 3' deep x 3' wide or maximum 6 'tall x 6' deep x 6' wide, to generate heat and decompose. Water the heap (pile) using a hose, and cover with a tarp. The "heap" will then decompose on its own.

How to Build a Compost Bin out of Pallets

  1. Level the ground where your bin will be.
  2. Set the pallets upright in a box shape.
  3. Lash the pallets securely together at the corners with wire or rope ties.
  4. Or use a pallet for the bottom. Pound in place metal support poles (rebar), on all four sides of bottom pallet. Slip pallets over rebar to function as side-walls.

How to turn your old garbage can into a backyard Composting Station

  1. In the location you wish to designate for your composting area, dig a hole approximately one foot deep with a similar diameter as your old garbage can.
  2. With a saw or similar tool, cut off the bottom of your old plastic garbage can. The top half of the can, along with the lid, will be the end that you will use. Drill about twenty small holes around the side of the bin to allow for draining and aeration (air flow).
  3. With the lid intact, take the top end of the garbage can and place it inside of the hole. The fit does not have to be perfect, but the tighter the seal, stability will be improved.
  4. You are now ready to start adding your yard waste and vegetarian kitchen scraps to your backyard composting station. For quick results, make sure your materials are moist but not drenched. Mix up materials every other day for aeration to compost. If proper attention is paid to your personal composting station, you should have usable compost within 12 weeks.

Consider Grasscycling

Grasscycling means leaving your clippings on the lawn to break down and feed the soil. Studies show that grasscycling:

  • Doesn't cause thatch.
  • Improves lawn rooting depth, drought and disease resistance.
  • Provides free fertilizer.
  • Save Time and Money When You Mulch. Save money on water bills and fertilizer, and save the time it takes to bag and transport Green Waste to Transfer Station or Landfill.

Grasscycling Tips

Leave the bag off your mower, and let the clippings drop – earthworms will recycle them!

Mow when the grass is dry, and keep mower blades sharp.

Raise mowing heights or mow more frequently during fast growth.

Water and fertilize less – save money, when you grasscycle!

Shopping for a new mower? Choose a "mulching" mower.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Composting

How long before I have compost?

Most people can harvest finished compost from the bottom of their pile about every 4 to 6 months. Please note, the smaller the pieces, the faster the composting. If you have a good mix of (2/3) "browns and (1/3) "greens" stir thoroughly and frequently (twice a week minimum), and keep compost moist as a kitchen sponge and you'll harvest compost in as little as 6 weeks.

Will my compost smell?

Properly functioning compost bins should not give off any unpleasant odors – if anything, they should be almost sweet-smelling. Do not put any meat, dairy, fats, oils or grease in your compost bin. If you do notice unpleasant odors, mix well with a pitchfork or hoe and turn the pile. Add some "browns" (e.g. leaves) to dry it out. Don’t add piles of grass clippings all at once, as they will give off an ammonia-like smell. Consider grasscycling or composting lawn clippings in a heap instead.

Will my compost pile attract bugs?

You will have bugs. It's good to have bugs as they are part of the decomposing process. Be cautious of centipedes and cockroaches when turning or retrieving compost from your bin. Wear gloves and closed-toed shoes when you garden.

What do I do to get rid of fruit flies?

You may be greeted by fruit flies when you open your compost bin. Turn compost pile frequently to incorporate all food scraps. Make sure all the fruits and veggies scraps get covered, and then you'll see a decrease in fruit flies.

What can I do to keep rodents and dogs out of my compost bin?

  • Never put any meat, dairy, whole eggs (egg-shell are fine) fats, oil or grease in your compost bin
  • Put chicken-wire on ground and then place compost bin on top of it
  • Place bricks or flat stones around the base of the compost bin
  • Add dog hair to the compost bin
  • Bury fresh (vegetarian) kitchen scraps in the compost pile
  • Your compost bin is a vegan - no protein in compost bin!
  • Keep the harvest door locked by placing a stick through the matching holes in the door. Keep the compost bin lid secure in place with provided stakes.

What should I do if my compost bin fills up too quickly?

Use your compost bin primarily for kitchen scraps, and green waste. If you do add a lot grass clipping to compost bin you may overwhelm the composting process. If you generate too much green waste for one compost bin, consider getting a second one, or building compost bins out of wood pallets. Try grasscycling or composting in a heap.

How should I handle yard waste?

Consider heap composting or making additonal compost bins out of wood pallets. Make a wire barrel and set aside leave to use throughout the year. Green Waste recycling at the Transfer Stations and Landfill is free for residents.

How moist should my compost pile be?

Moist as a kitchen sponge. In dry locations, you may need to frequently water the pile. In rainy areas, you may need to add more "browns" (dry leaves, etc.), and turn (aerate) the pile often with a pitchfork or hoe.

Indoor and Outdoor Composting with Worms!

Looking to start a Worm Bin and try Verminicompost (composting with worms)?

Worm bins work great for indoor composting systems for those that don't have access to a yard for an outdoor composting bin.

Training on how to vermicompost, worm composting kits, and local worms are available through the businesses below.

Contact: Ned Selfe, Head Wormologist
Phone: (808) 639-2016
Email: wikiwikiwormranch@mac.com

Contact: Brad Carter, Worm Wrangler
Phone: (808) 639-6473
Email: wikiwikiwormranch@mac.com

Or see:

Contact: Randy Murch
Phone: (808) 635-6027
Email: redwigglerskauai@gmail.com