Composting made easy! Here’s what you need to know about ‘greens’ and ‘browns’

When we talk about composting, ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ are likely to come up – and if you’re composting newbie, you’re not likely to have a clue what they are. When we refer to greens and browns we’re not referring to the colour of the items, but about how fresh they are. A balance of ‘browns and ‘greens’ helps to ensure you make the best compost.

What are ‘Browns’ and why do we need them?

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Cardboard, egg boxes, scrunched-up paper, fallen leaves, twigs, bark, sawdust all count as brown waste. ‘Browns’ are carbon-rich and tend to have a firmer structure to help preserve air flow to the compost.

What are ‘Greens’ and why do we need them?

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Any freshly grown items, so any vegetable peelings or grass clippings, are ‘greens’. Other common ‘greens’ include tea bags, salad leaves, fruit scraps, old flowers, coffee grounds and filter papers, rhubarb leaves and young annual weeds.

‘Greens’ are nitrogen-rich, and they usually contain a lot more moisture than browns so rot down quickly. These greens help ‘activate’ the compost, they provide a good environment for the microbes and also help to keep the browns moist.

How do I get the balance right?

A 50:50 ratio of ‘browns’ and ‘greens’ is what you should aim for. But, what is less important than the exact ratio is ensuring that you have a mix of the two. As long as your mix isn’t all one colour, your compost will probably still be good to go!

Have you tried balancing the ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ in your compost? We’d love to hear how you’ve got on with your composting. Use the #SlimYourBin hashtag to tell us and your fellow residents about your composting! And for more composting tips, don’t forget that we’ve put together 7 top composting hacks here, and a handy free beginner’s guide for composting which you can find here

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