Seattle.gov Home Page
Seattle.gov This Department

Food Waste

Turn your kitchen scraps into fertile soil

  • Do Compost: Vegetables and fruits, bread, grains, spoiled food, coffee filters and tea bags, eggshells, fruit from yard, and food soiled paper or cardboard.
  • Don’t Compost: Meat, fish, dairy (these attract rats), or pet waste (bag it, and put in trash).

Systems for safe food waste composting

The best systems include worm bins, Green Cones, home made rodent-proof composters, and burying scraps in the garden. Closed containers keep rats, flies, and other animals out — that’s important!

  • Green Cones - Buried halfway in the ground, just dump food in and close lid. Wait 6 months, then harvest finished compost off bottom. Two Cones are best, so one can compost while you fill the second. See the Green Cone User Guide (pdf) for more information. Residents can Buy Compost Bins & Rain Barrels from the Seattle Conservation Corps.
  • Worm Bins - Home made boxes you fill with moistened “bedding” (brown leaves, sawdust, and shredded paper). Add red worms (see Resource List (pdf) for worm suppliers). Then just bury food waste in the bedding, to prevent flies and odors. Worms do the composting. See the Composting at Home Guide (pdf) page 9, or Worm Bin Plans and Use (pdf), courtesy of Seattle Tilth.
  • Home Made Food Waste Composter - Use a metal garbage can or similar rodent-proof container. Drill holes in the bottom, and bury it halfway in ground. Then just layer fresh food scraps with “bedding” like brown leaves, sawdust, or paper. You can add red worms, or they’ll find their way in from the soil. See the Home Made Food Waste Composter (pdf).
  • Burying in the Garden - A great way to compost vegetable scraps in the soil. Be sure to cover with at least 8 inches of soil to keep rodents and pets out. Some people start a 12 inch deep trench, and then bury in one end, covering with soil from the other end. See the Composting at Home Guide (pdf), page 8.
Garden Hotline Logo

Questions?

Want to find red worm suppliers? Got composting or yard questions? Contact the experts at the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224 (language interpretation available) or email help@gardenhotline.org.

Print material

Growing Healthy Soil Guide (pdf) - Has more information on using compost and mulches for a healthy, easy-care yard.
Compost Resource List (pdf) - Lists bin suppliers, tools, and more.
Composting Questions & Answers (pdf) - Answers to some common questions.

Links on other sites

Seattle Tilth - Sells red worms, and offers classes in composting and organic gardening.