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In this review:
  1. Cheap Compost Bins
  2. Compost Bin Reviews
  3. Outdoor Compost Bins

Cheap Compost Bins Buying Guide

Composting is a means of conservation -- a way to turn kitchen and yard waste into fertilizer -- so it stands to reason that compost bins should be cheap. Placing waste in free-form piles outdoors is certainly the thriftiest way to make a nutrient-rich enhancement for the garden, but eco-minded consumers often prefer dedicated compost bins: one for indoors to hold food scraps while awaiting transfer outside to a second, larger bin where the composting takes place.

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The former can be had for as little as $18 and the latter for no more than $50.

Why bother with a compost bin, even if it is a bargain? For one, thereís no unsightly pile sitting on the kitchen counter or in the yard or on the terrace. Also, most cheap compost bins, and virtually all the indoor products, are closed containers that keep odors in and critters and insects out. Two other related reasons for using an outdoor compost bin are airflow and retention of heat and moisture, all vital ingredients in the decomposition process.

We identified two cheap indoor compost bins that merit consideration. The 0.75-gallon OXO Good Grips Compost Bin (starting at $20) holds the top spot for its odor-free seal and clean good looks. The 1.25-gallon Gaiam Compost Bucket (starting at $18/regular and $20/tall), our second choice, provides a tight seal as well as an activated-carbon filter that absorbs odors. The significantly larger Mr. ECO Mini Compost Bin (starting at $40) holds 2.7 gallons and features a handle for turning the waste but fails to deliver; some users find the process messy and susceptible to flies and odors.

The list of cheap outdoor compost bins we like begins with the Redmon Compost Bin (starting at $47), a 65-gallon structure with ventilated sides, lid, and four doors that enable easy access to the fresh compost. The Fiskars 5705 Eco Bin Collapsible Composter (starting at $40), a cylinder-like covered bin with mesh sides wins points for good air flow, light weight, and collapsible design. The Keter 17186362 E-Composter with Base (starting at $49) doesnít make the grade; among other issues, users gripe that the bin pops apart and canít withstand the weight of the 124 gallons it claims to hold.

The transition from kitchen and yard waste to useful organic matter is a biological process that relies on oxygen and moisture, the proper mix of ďbrownĒ waste (leaves, branches) and ďgreenĒ waste (food scraps, grass clippings), and human or mechanical intervention in the form of periodic churning. If not tended carefully or built up in the proper proportions, decomposing matter can emit foul odors, attract pests, and take forever to become the light, fluffy, nutrient-rich compost that conditions the soil and keeps plants happy.

High-end composters, whether of the indoor or outdoor variety, cost in the low- to mid-triple digit range but do much of the work for you. Some pricey models boast automatic mixing arms; others require a few spins of a drum-like container; and still others let worms take charge. Indoor models that produce compost typically contain a carbon filter, an additional fortification against unpleasant smells. Composting proceeds relatively quickly in these closed systems, sometimes needing just a couple of weeks from start to finish.

Review continues below

The budget end of the compost bins market is another story. Here, indoor and outdoor models serve unique functions. Cheap indoor compost bins are meant to be convenient dumping grounds for kitchen waste until the consumer is ready to carry the contents to the outdoor compost pile (or bin). They have lids that close tight and some sport a carbon filter for additional odor control. Most are made of plastic, a material that consumers often prefer over metal (prone to rust) and ceramic (prone to breakage). Cheap backyard compost bins are larger and do the real work of composting with a design that lets in air and moisture, traps heat, and keeps wildlife at bay. Manual effort, usually facilitated by a pitchfork, is required to periodically churn the mass. Most cheap outdoor compost bins are made of plastic, which generally fares well against the elements.

The best-known names in the compost bins business are Gaiam, Presto Products, Redmon, Keter, Exaco, and Worm Factory. Compost bins are also a DIY opportunity, and numerous sites offer tips for building your own. And donít forget the Environmental Protection Agency, a fertile ground for guidance and information about composting.

by Alyssa Goldman (Google+ Profile)

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Best Cheap Compost Bins

OXO Good Grips Compost Bin
Gold Medal

OXO Good Grips Compost Bin

Best Cheap Indoor Compost Bin. This diminutive indoor compost bin is right-sized for a small household or kitchen. Itís easy to open and close, and odors donít seem to be a problem despite the absence of a carbon filter. Easy to clean, as well, and a touch of green trim against a white shell adds to the aesthetic appeal.

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Redmon Compost Bin
Gold Medal

Redmon Compost Bin

Best Cheap Outdoor Compost Bin. A four-sided structure with doors, a top lid, and a base, the 65-gallon Redmon Compost Bin is a snap to assemble and affords easy access to the finished compost. Good ventilation and a tight lid keep the decomposition moving along.

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Good Cheap Compost Bins

Gaiam Compost Bucket
Gold Medal

Gaiam Compost Bucket

Good Cheap Indoor Compost Bin. An activated carbon filter on this 5.5-quart or 2.5-gallon bin absorbs odors but sometimes pops off, say reviewers. Biodegradable liners are a practical accessory but not necessary, as the green bucket is easy to clean.

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Fiskars 5705 Eco Bin Collapsible Composter
Gold Medal

Fiskars 5705 Eco Bin Collapsible Composter

Good Cheap Outdoor Compost Bin. With a capacity of 75 gallons, this nylon mesh cylinder with a lid but no base is a proving ground for compost thanks to the inflow of air and moisture. Some users consider its openness excessive, however, saying it attracts critters and slows the aerobic decomposition.

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Donít Bother

Mr. ECO Mini Compost Bin

Donít Bother Indoor Compost Bin. A handle to manually turn the waste seems like a good idea for an indoor compost bin, but users fault the execution, saying the tumbler gets stuck and the rotation allows odors and fruit flies to escape.

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Keter 17186362 E-Composter with Base

Donít Bother Outdoor Compost Bin. Users are disappointed with this 124-gallon outdoor compost bin due to a variety of build-quality problems, including doors that come out of their slots.

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