18 Trusted Places to Get Free Compost Near You Today

Compost Near Me: Just like there are ways to get free mulch near you, there are also plenty of ways you can get free compost near you.

Compost has many great benefits. With a lot of organic ingredients, it is rich in nutrients. It can act as a fertilizer, soil conditioner, and a natural pesticide for soil for anything from your own small organic vegetable garden to landscaping, horticulture, organic farming, and more.

compost near me

Main Types of Compost

  • “Regular” compost. Sometimes called thermo-compost or aerobic compost but mostly just called “compost,” it’s made with a diversity of ingredients mixed together in piles or long windrows. Those ingredients are broken down primarily by microorganisms.
  • Worm compost (vermicompost). Similar to the above, but it’s worms that break down the ingredients (along with the bacteria inside their digestive systems). Neither regular or worm compost is inherently better than the other. They each can have their own slight advantages but much more important is the quality and diversity of materials being used and the quality of the whole process. In theory, it could be optimal to use a combination of both and I say go for it if you have the chance, but you’ll get most of the way there from just one good compost.
  • Composted manure. As for quality, it depends entirely on what’s in it. If it were just animal poo that was left to compost on its own, it probably wouldn’t be particularly nutritious or biologically diverse, but if it’s mixed with straw and other materials, it becomes more and more like regular compost.
  • Mushroom compost. It’s generally not great. Yes, it is organic matter, but 1) It’s probably been sterilized, killing the microorganisms, 2) The mushrooms that were grown on it took out a lot of the nutrients, and 3) If they were non-organic mushrooms, it may contain a fair amount of pesticide residue.

What is compost used for?

Compost is used in gardens, as well as in landscaping, organic farming, horticulture, and urban agriculture. Since compost is rich in nutrients, it is incredibly beneficial to the land.

Composting requires three elements:

  • Browns: This includes materials like twigs, dead leaves, and branches. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost.
  • Greens: These are materials such as vegetable peels, fruit scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds. The green materials provide nitrogen.
  • Water: The water will provide moisture to help break down the organic matter. For compost development, having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is vital.

What are the benefits of compost?

Compost has lots of benefits, like:

  • It helps soil to retain moisture.
  • It acts as a fertilizer, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Compost promotes the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, which is a rich nutrient-filled material.
  • Composting reduces methane emissions from landfills.
  • Composting lowers your carbon footprint.

Where Can I Free Compost Near Me?

Well, try these places…

1. Look out for local programs

Many cities, in an effort to be more environmentally friendly, have programs that give away free compost to residents.

RethinkWaste, for example, offers free compost to residents in certain areas in California, such as San Mateo.

Through the program, residents in the RethinkWaste service area can pick up free compost year-round in San Carlos.

2. Craigslist

Whether it’s free firewood or free pallets for DIY projects, you can get pretty much anything for free on Craigslist. Sure, there won’t always be compost available, but it’s worth checking on there.

Here’s how you can find free compost on Craigslist:

  • Go to your city’s free Craigslist section.
  • Find the “For Sale” Section
  • Under this section, click on “Free.”
  • Enter the word “compost” into the search bar.

Then, you’ll get listings near you with people giving away free compost.

3. OfferUp

Most people know OfferUp as a place where you can buy and sell stuff nearby. But, you can actually find free stuff on there too. Just check out the freebie section. When I looked on there, I found quite a few people giving away compost near me.

You can search the site for “compost.”

And you may find people giving away compost in your city or town.

4. Freecycle

If you haven’t heard about Freecycle, you should definitely visit the website. On Freecycle, people can give away stuff and get stuff for free. Have a browse of the site, and you may be able to get free compost on there.

5. Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is another online marketplace, like OfferUp, where people can buy and sell stuff.

But, it also has a section where you can get stuff for free. Have a search on there to see if there’s anyone giving away compost near you.

6. CompostNow

CompostNow is a company that will come and pick up food scraps from your home and then gives you free compost in return.

Here’s how it works:

  • Sign up and CompostNow will deliver a clean bin to your doorstep that same week.
  • Fill up the bin with things like pizza boxes, coffee grounds and filters, paper products, and any food scraps, which includes meat, bones, and dairy.
  • CompostNow will swap your bin with a clean one each service day, which means you don’t have to worry about smells or residue.
  • It will track your waste reduction and compost creation down to the pound.
  • Then you earn compost. You can share it with the company’s farm and garden partners, or have it delivered to you.

Now, the reason I’ve put this one lower down the list is that only your first two collections are free. You also get a free compost collection bin and a “what is compostable” magnet.

compost near me

Where to Get Free Compost Materials

7. Local Departments and Agencies

Many local departments and agencies give away natural materials to the public. And often you can take as much as you’d like. These could be things like ash, aquatic weeds, or trees and brush that have gone through a wood chipper.

8. Local Farms

While farms will often reuse much of their organic material themselves, you may be able to get some great stuff. Depending on what type of farm they are they may have anything from eggshells to manure, or old hay. Orchards can be a huge source of spoiled fruits of various types.

9. Riding Stables

One of the most prized composting materials of all is manure, and stables are sure to have it in large amounts. If you have one nearby it could be a goldmine for the future of your garden and you’ll be helping them to cut down on their waste. It’s a win-win.

10. Mills And Factories

There are many different types of mills and factories that use natural products you can take advantage of. Lumber mills, flour mills, cider mills, canneries, breweries, and wineries are just a few. Slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants can also provide materials for your compost.

11. Shops and Businesses

There are more than likely many shops and businesses in your area that are throwing away items you could use. Often all you’ll have to do is ask the manager or owner.

Food waste from restaurants and supermarkets are examples. Pet hair from dog groomers along with human hair from salons and barbershops are also options.

Flower shops will often have an abundant source of organic waste from trimmings, cuttings, and plants which have died. Cafés can be a great source of coffee grounds. And don’t forget businesses that work with wood for sawdust.

12. The Black Friday Composting Bonanza

Black Friday – that crazy day after Thanksgiving.  Well, we think it should be called “Black Gold Friday”.  Why?  

Because all of those people that decorated for Harvest Fests and Thanksgiving suddenly have no use for those straw bales, pumpkins, gourds, and corn stalks.  

They can be yours simply for the asking – and a quick way to get great material for your pile.  We scored over 7 bales of free straw and a slew of pumpkins and gourds from friends and family just this past year.

13. Coffee Houses

Coffee grounds are a perfect choice for adding to your pile – and small coffee shops are a great place to find them!  

In fact, many coffee houses routinely save their grounds for customers.  Some bigger chains even create a list of customers to save grounds for –  insuring that the by-product of all of their brewing doesn’t end up in the local landfill. 

Many of those same coffee shops serve breakfast and lunch as well, so they might be a good source for additional materials.  Either way, you can get a great cup of coffee and get free compost materials!

14. Landscapers & Tree Companies

When you see those tree trimming and landscaping trucks in your neighborhood with the big shredders attached – ask them to drop off a load to your house.  

You’ll be surprised how many are more than happy to accommodate you with tons of shredded goodness for free – many times saving them a costly fee and a trip to go dump them.  

This is where that dose of common sense comes in handy –  it’s a good idea to see what will be in the load.  

Shredded leaves and wood chips are a good source – but you might shy away from a tree company shredding up poison ivy vines :).

15. Grocery Stores & Produce Stands

Small grocery stores and produce stands can be a goldmine for composting materials.  

You might have luck with large chain stores as well,  but smaller mom and pop locations are usually easier to deal with on the local level, and more than happy to help.  

Simply ask the store manager what is currently done with expired produce – and you might be surprised that they are willing to save it for you.  

Those rotten tomatoes, potatoes, and fruit may be past their prime as a food source – but they make great additions to any compost pile.

16. Local Horse Stables, Hobby Farms and Farmers

Get to know your local farm community.  Many local hobby farmers and owners of small horse stables are more than glad to give away their manure to gardeners.    

And so what if you don’t have a truck –  keep a couple of five-gallon buckets handy, with a lid of course and take some home to your compost pile.  

compost near me

17. Fall Leaves & Clean Up Time

We talk about this one a lot, but fall is the easiest time to gather free materials for the compost bin!  

Just take a short trip around a few wooded neighborhoods, and you can have an endless supply of leaves for your pile.  Most of the time, they are already bagged at the curbside for easy pick-up.

We collect as many as we can each fall and store the extra for use throughout the season.  Its a great way for us to have a year-round supply for use in future compost piles or mulching garden plants.

18. Neighbors & Friends

Yes, neighbors.  You know the people that live beside and down the street from you?  

The ones you have never met but wave to every day.  They are a great source of composting materials – and this is a great way to get to know them!  

They eat eggs, they have morning coffee, and they have potato peels and grass clippings.  Now if they compost already – you may be out of luck.  

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Remember though that one of the best ways to get compost for free is to simply start composting at home. Create your own compost pile or get your own compost bin and start putting materials like fruit peels and paper in there.

You’ll have your own source of compost that’s entirely free! As you can see above there are so many ways you can get free materials for your compost bin. So composting at home is a good option.

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