Tag Archives: compost tumblers

Compost Tumbler Sighting!

Have you ever seen one of these compost tumbler models before?  This cute little compost tumbler was spotted in Charlotte, NC.  Before I opened it up, I had a feeling it would be filled with sludge, due to what looks like a lack of airflow design…where are the holes?  More on that in a moment.

Look at that cool little marking on the lid to denote whether the unit was open or closed…nice.  While it snapped into place quite easily, I wonder how many times I can do this before wearing it out.  If the locking mechanism failed, the tumbler would become useless as it flips end over end by design.

How were the contents?

The material in here looked pretty nice…crumbly and smelling good.  The only airflow design was the perforated axle that the unit rotated on.  I can’t imagine how this was enough for the process to work, but who knows?  I guess if you’re attentive to what you put in there, it’ll work just fine.

Speaking of turning this thing, good luck!  It’s less than halfway full and I was struggling to squat under it low enough to turn it over.  This is why I recommend and prefer tumblers that spin on a base low to the ground: I can “fall into it” and turn it easily without killing my back.

Not my favorite tumbler I’ve seen…anyone out there have one of these or know what brand it is?

Earthworms in the Compost: It’s a Good Thing.

Back in January I made a brief post about my compost tumbler being full of worms…and by worms I don’t mean red wigglers, but earthworms.

Who cares?

Well, I’ve decided it’s time to pay tribute to earthworms again, because they’re often confused with red wigglers and their purposes get mixed up.

Red wigglers are super resilient (e.g. temperature changes, crowding), live in organic material and have a serious appetite…they make the most sense in a full-on vermicomposting setup- anything from a super cheap/simple worm bin to the popular Worm Factory or Worm Inn options.  If you put them in with a freshly active compost pile, chances are good they’ll be dead right away or leave altogether.

Earthworms, however, may arrive much later in the composting process:

My tumbler has been sitting “idle” for a couple months now and each time I take a peek, I find earthworms in there.  They came up through the bottom of my tumbler and have been burrowing their way through the material, speeding up the end process.  Earthworms are soil dwelling worms that will assist in further breaking down of compost into neutral, balanced soil.  To have soil dwelling worms in my compost seems like a good indicator of the material at this stage.

So if you’re looking in your compost pile one day and see some worms in there, it’s almost certain they’re earthworms- not suitable for efficient vermicomposting, but perfectly normal for improving your near-finished compost.

Vertex Composter Eco Tumbler Review

Have you seen one of these before?  I was recently asked a few times for my opinion on this thing.  It’s called the Vertex Eco Tumbler and it looks to be the cheapest possible compost tumbler you can buy.  So does the old adage “you get what you pay for” apply here?  Is this the best option for the compost tumbler curious?

Without seeing one in person it’s hard to say, but here’s my observations of the unit:

-Cost!  They’re under $100, which makes it the cheapest compost tumbler.

-Looking at the reviews on Amazon, it looks like the main issue people have is with its assembly.  Therefore, if you like a challenge this shouldn’t be a problem.  However, assembly issues may allude to cheap and/or shoddy manufacturing.

-I think the barrel material (corrugated plastic) is a wise choice to make it super cheap, but I wonder how sturdy it is when it’s full of material.  The metal bars going over the barrel serve two purposes…they probably keep the thing from falling apart.  However, they make great grips for tumbling the compost.

-I like the locking mechanism to keep the barrel in place…it’s kind of necessary, unless you have your composter door propped up against a wall or fence (which is what I do).  The legs look just OK.

-The sliding door system is strange.  No clamps or locking mechanisms, just doors that appear to be able to freely move side to side.  If this claims to be the main source of airflow, I’m a little worried.  Might be time to break out the drill and make some holes on the sides, but the strength of the material may be easily compromised.

I’m guessing this is a relatively new composter available in the marketplace…it doesn’t look like many places carry it.  I’m always a fan of compost tumblers lower to the ground and not on legs so they don’t get tippy when full.  However, this one might fare well.  If you have one, leave a comment for me and let me know how you feel about these!

I feel weird about rating it since I don’t have one, but since I like to get what I pay for, I would rather spend a little more and get a tumbler that is in it for the long haul instead.

Lifetime Compost Tumbler Review


Recently I was asked my opinion on the Lifetime Compost Tumbler.  I hadn’t heard of it before, but apparently it resides at a number of big box stores and is sold for as little as $100.  You get what you pay for, right?

My favorite thing to do is look at customer reviews on Amazon… in this regard, it appears that it’s a pain in the butt to assemble.  I’m somewhat surprised as it doesn’t look that complicated.

What do I like about it?  The metal hinges and ergonomic grips look pretty nice.  In the above video, I like how they casually prop up the door against the shed in the background.  This doesn’t make sense to me, as it has a pin on the side (very clever) to lock the barrel in place.  So I’ll give it that, if it works as it should.  I like that the barrel is a triangular shape, as that would make the material “flip over” a bit more.

What don’t I like about it?  The tube going through the middle for oxygen seems a bit weak.  There’s only a few holes drilled in it, and it would be better if there were holes drilled in the actual barrel instead.  The barrel should allow for oxygen, not be airtight to focus on holding heat.  If the material is added correctly in the right proportions, it will get to composting temperatures regardless of how many holes are drilled.

Another common customer complaint is that when it starts filling up, it’s really hard to rotate it.  I bet.  That’s why I like tumblers that are directly on the ground, as you can fall into them to rotate.  The higher off the ground the tumbler gets, the harder it is to rotate it.

All in all, this looks like it would be a decent compost tumbler, although I’d probably modify it by adding a few holes on the sides.  Also, be prepared to spend some time assembling it.

For a good deal on the Lifetime Compost Tumbler, click here!

Just How Important Are Biodegradable Plastics?

It seems like over the last year or two, all the major companies have been jumping on board not only with a “green” product line, but with biodegradable plastics. I’d like to focus on the three major food service items that have been getting makeovers: cups, utensils and trash bags.

To narrow it further, forget about items listed simply as “degradable”… what isn’t? This is deceptive. “Biodegradable plastics” or “compostable plastics” that will completely compost in a commercial compost facility are what to look for. PLA (polylactic acid) is one of the most common corn based plastics used.

Are they worth it? I’m not so sure. Assuming they’re non-toxic and biodegrading as described, most people will not be able to compost these items in their backyard piles. This instantly reminds me of the Sun Chips bag, which upset people because they didn’t disappear immediately, let alone for a seemingly indefinite period of time.

The issue with bioplastics is that they need extended high temperatures in order to break down properly. Commercial composting facilities are the only places that really seem to do this easily, and a quick interview or two revealed that they have trouble with them.

Biodegradable plastic trash bags actually appear useful, if not for their high cost, lack of durability and fraudulent imitators. Make sure they are certified to the ASDM D6400 standard, which composting facilities will most likely require. Otherwise, you may end up with an oxo-biodegradable bag, which does not fully compost.

It’s no secret that landfills aren’t aerobic havens of biodegradation, however. What’s the point of spending more on a bag that might just remain as it is? There’s no light in a landfill, and oxygen is not freely mixing anywhere. My experience with these bags is that they fall apart if waste is held in them for too long, so in a way that’s comforting that they will degrade at least to an extent.

Of the three items mentioned, I think that biodegradable trash bags are a fair choice as we will always have material to send out somewhere, be it large quantities of recycling or trash. If everyone recycled and composted to the max, we would still need bags here and there to maintain order.

Next up is the biodegradable cup. I find cups to be avoidable in many situations with enough planning, and I enjoy trying to bring my water bottle with me everywhere I go. One way to do this is to get a nice filtering water bottle so you desire a better taste with no exceptions. Let’s face it- we don’t have water coming out of the tap, it’s fluid at best. Quit the soda and ditch the chlorine taste.

Anyway, Styrofoam cups are much cheaper than bioplastic cups and always will be although there’s essentially no recycling market for them. Who cares, they’re cheap and made of mostly air, right? It’s still a toxic product breaking into smaller pieces to be readily bioaccumulated while doing nothing to change our throw away behaviors.

Finding a compostable paper cup is harder than I once thought. Through some extensive research, I’ve found that most paper cups have a plastic liner inside. That must be a source of the plastic I pull out of my finished compost every once in a while! if you can find a paper cup with a wax liner (soybean wax, not paraffin wax), you are in luck. I haven’t been able to find one, but supposedly they exist and will compost.

I wonder how many plastic utensils get recycled. I’d be willing to wager slim to none, unfortunately. How about the corn or potato based utensils? They seem like a good idea, but this is another case where habitual reduction will outweigh material usage.
I keep one fork at my work desk, and I’ve used it for 5 years. If everyone did this, our disposable flatware needs would diminish quite a bit. I think this is more reasonable than carrying a portable spork around. I tried it, but I kept forgetting it when I needed it.

Little changes can lead to big outcomes, and bioplastics are not the greatest answer. It is possible that they may provide some short term relief, but even that’s questionable. They fall short on addressing the real problem at hand: our (fixable) throwaway culture.

The Top 4 or 5 Tips for Choosing the Right Compost Tumbler (video)

Top 4 or 5 Tips for Choosing the Right Compost Tumbler

When it comes to compost tumblers, I’ve found that there’s several important considerations to choose the right one for you. Keep in mind that not everyone’s situation is best for a tumbler, and that you can compost without spending a single penny.

If you’re interested in a compost tumbler, keep these key factors in mind as there’s plenty of sub-par compost designs out there:

1) Ergonomics
2) Airflow
3) Durability
4) Capacity

If you have any questions, please get in touch.  Thanks for watching!

Do I Need More Than One Compost Tumbler? (video)

Do I Need More Than One Compost Tumbler?

Do I need more than one compost tumbler?  No!  You don’t even need one.  You don’t even need a dollar to compost at home.  It’s all a matter of choice.

Envirocycle mods…? Why not?

Notice anything different in this picture?

Yep, I drilled holes in the Envirocycle Original model. I asked about it a while ago, and their advice was not to drill holes, but I begged to differ. Then when the Mini version came out (the tan one), it had an awesome air vent on both sides of the drum. Ah-ha!

What’s wrong with more airflow? Beats me. Yes, it’s nice to keep the heat in and let things cook, but it can’t cook without gas (air). So there you have it, sink or swim. I just filled both drums with brand new materials, as I just cleaned out my refrigerator and found all kinds of old artifacts just begging to be composted…stuff that expired years ago! Whoops.

FAQ: Do I need more than one tumbler to make compost?

I’ve received a lot of emails asking me if I need two compost tumblers to make composting work. The answer:

No way.

I totally understand that the cost of a compost tumbler can be prohibitive for some, and I agree that they’re not cheap. It really depends on the situation to know what works best. In some instances, tumblers are perfect, in others they’re not practical at all. Factors such as space, aesthetics, and amount of material all weigh heavily.

If you do decide to go with a tumbler, you can always fill it 3/4s of the way, then all further waste for the next 12 weeks or so divide up into other composting efforts. For example, I put portions of my waste in my worm composting system, and the rest I bury in the ground next to the compost tumbler.

If you happen to glance over my videos, some of them show a second, smaller tumbler next to my usual one. Envirocycle liked my videos so much that they sent me that one as a thank you! Pretty awesome. I pretty much don’t have to bury material anymore since I can use the Mini as well. I have some really lush compost that I just pulled from it recently…I totally forgot about it and now it’s pretty nice.

Anyway, to reiterate, you do not need two compost tumblers at all…you can pull off one or none just as easily.

Envirocycle full of worms???

In the wintertime, I take my composting efforts indoors to pay attention to the worms.  We had yet another uncharacteristically warm day here (if just one more person says “omg i love global warming lol”…ugh ), so I checked out the composter…full of worms!

It had just rained, and the inside was a bit damp…so my guess is that the earthworms were just looking for warm, moist ground and they found it in there.  They also found a lot of stuff they probably weren’t used to, like a Sun Chips bag trying to degrade, and some paper packaging material that I lazily threw in without ripping it up, just for fun.

I seem to get a fair number of emails talking about worms in the composter…these worms are almost certainly just earthworms (sorry earthworms) and not red wigglers, or composting worms.

Another thing worth noting, is that red wigglers are not the best solution for adding to your compost tumbler.  If your compost is in the early stages of degradation and is quite warm, this may harm the worms.  They’re also kind of picky about airflow, and most likely won’t come in the tumbler to start with.  Lastly, they don’t want their habitat being flipped upside down all the time, and if you’re using the tumbler how it should be used, wigglers won’t stick around for long.