So you’ve decided to join the composting movement. Awesome! Composting is economically and environmentally sound, it’s fun, and it’s a hobby that provides a connection with the most basic natural process — decay and rebirth — which is missing from the lives of so many modern people.

Follow these steps to get your composting system up and running.

Turn scraps into rich, lush soil by composting.

How and Why

The stuff compost is made of is pretty gross: food scraps, dead plants, coffee grinds, eggshells, and grass clippings. But the finished product — the dark, lush, rich soil that gardeners call “black gold” — literally smells like springtime.

Nature takes hundreds of years to produce an inch of compost, but you can get the same amount in just a few weeks by harnessing and nurturing the microbes that break down biological matter. Composting reduces waste, saves money, puts food waste to use, and provides you with something hungry farmers have coveted for millennia — rich, fertile soil.

Types of Systems

There are many different ways to compost, but the four musts are: the right ingredients, good air flow, consistent moisture, and appropriate volume. There is a myriad of methods from which to choose, including tumblers, wire or plastic collectors, wooden bins, pallet bins, homemade bins, and the natural method, which requires no container except the ground. There are pros and cons with each, and each depends on how much you’re composting and how much space you have.

Assess your needs and do your homework by reviewing a side-by-side comparison.

Choose Your Site

Composting is like real estate. The three most important things are location, location, location. Be sure that your chosen site has adequate air circulation, with both enough holes or slots in the container and enough fresh air outside of the container itself. Compost containers should not be exposed to full sunlight. Keep your compost away from anything prone to rot, like wooden structures, and make sure it’s easy to access.

Harness the Earth’s miraculous ability to create life-giving soil from biological waste.

Worm Composting

Worm composting is the process of putting scraps in a container with worms and letting them do what they do best — turn once-living things into dirt. It is often an overlooked method because worms are gross and slimy, but it is among the oldest, easiest, tried and true methods of composting known to man. Worms don’t need much but some bedding like newspaper, dark, moisture, and something to eat before they can provide you with black gold.

Find out if worm composting is right for you by reading a breakdown of the process.

Composting is good for you, good for the environment, and good for your checkbook. It’s productive and represents the ultimate form of recycling. Tap into the Earth’s miraculous ability to regenerate life right in your own back yard.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about environmental issues and business topics such as business reputation management .