What’s A Compost Filter… And Do I Need One!?

What’s A Compost Filter… And Do I Need One!?


This is part of our ongoing series, called DTL (that stands for Down to Learn), where we take deep dives into the odd, nuanced and mysterious world of sustainability. Each article in our series should give you a good icebreaker for your next Zoom, or perhaps even inspire you. Today, a little discussion about the stinky stuff.


A compost filter is a handy-dandy odor trapping mechanism that lives in your compost bin. It keeps your compost from making your home smell gnarly. It also makes it easier to hang onto the contents of your compost bin longer, so you have to make less frequent compost drop-off trips. 

Not all bins are created equal though, so whether or not you need one depends on what kind of bin you have! 

Does my bin need a filter?

If your compost bin needs a filter, you’ll know-- probably because it already came with one (or a space for one!) when you bought it! 

What if my bin didn’t come with a filter?

If your bin didn’t come with a filter, then there’s likely not a mechanism to attach it to the lid, and therefore not a huge point in purchasing one. All good! Your compost is still awesome-- it just may be more likely to get stinky, or may need to be changed out more often.

How often (and how!) do I get rid of my filters?

Well, surprise! They’re compostable. If you don’t have a replacement filter, and you want to try to eke a little bit more out of your used filter, you can always give it a rinse and see if that helps release some odor. (If the filter still stinks after a rinse, it’s time to buy a new one.) 

The general guidance is that these should be replaced every 4-6 weeks, but how often you need to replace them totally depends on how actively you compost. You may be able to go longer!

Does buying and shipping more compost filters or a compost bin “cancel out” the act of composting itself?


Doing your part is not a zero sum game. You’re a person, not a machine, and there is no magic utopia where you can create zero waste for the rest of time and never tax people or planet and live a happy and easy life. (Well, for most of us, at least.) It is *ALWAYS* better to do what you can, imperfectly, than to wait until modalities of sustainable living (whether compost bins or electric vehicles) to finally become “perfect solutions”-- perfect solutions don’t exist, and our ability to make things sustainable at scale improves as demand for sustainable technologies and products increase.

TLDR: there’s no such thing as “cancelling out” when it comes to doing your best to be sustainable.

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