Disadvantages of composting: Everything you should know about

Composting is something that is gaining traction and much has been talked about this trend lately. Is everything good about composting as the people say? I’m driving deep on this composting topic and will try to find an answer to all your questions about composting.

One of the main disadvantages of composting is the initial cost, it costs up to 5 times more than a traditional system. The compost itself has a long treatment period until it is fully safe to dispose of the waste and without odors. It also requires you to directly handle the waste from time to time.

But there is way more to it than just this brief summary, there are other disadvantages like aesthetics and pests, read below all I found about composting.

Can’t fully replace fertilizer 

One good thing about composting is that you can use it as fertilizer. Although this is a good thing, composting may not have all the nutrients needed to replace totally a commercial fertilizer. It is a good supplement tough and will lower your costs on fertilizers.

What makes compost good to fertilize the soil?

Good compost will be rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It also regulates soil pH and moisture and improves soil texture.

That’s a good help but unfortunately is not enough to fully substitute a proper fertilizer because although compost is good to improve the soil making a better environment for plants to live, a good fertilizer will improve the plant’s nutrition directly. 

Does that mean that if I don’t add fertilizer my crop will suffer?

No, that doesn’t, fertilizer is a good help to your crop and compost will help a lot creating good conditions for your crop but it isn’t a necessity. Compost will be enough to create good conditions and is way better than using nothing at all.

May attract pests

As compost piles are rich in nutrients and it will certainly attract pests like roaches or rats. The rule of thumb here is to maintain a balance as cockroaches and other bugs are natural decomposers that may help to decompose your waste faster.

The problem here is when those bugs start to appear inside your home. To avoid this problem you may need to take some action:

Keep them away

Turn your pile and add some water regularly, once a week if there is any problem with bugs, twice a week if they are getting annoying. This will break down their activity as it accelerates the composting process keeping the temperature up without releasing odors.

There are organic pest control methods that involve using silica. Silica works by damaging cockroaches’ body coating and joints causing them to shrivel. You can mix directly in your compost pile and if you are bothered that they can infest your home, sprinkle some powder around the outside of your house to deter pests from entering your home.  

If this problem persists, you may consider investing in a pest-resistant bin, that will keep the compost out of reach for pests and it may be more pleasant to eyes as you have the compost pile confined in one place.

Neighbours may complain

Some neighbours may have complained about your composting pile for causing odours or for that thing on your garden not being that aesthetic. In any case, it is important for you to listen to what your neighbours have to say and in any circumstance enter in conflict.

If there is an issue, try to fix it as soon as possible, they may complain about pests, odors and that is really annoying, especially if it is caused by other people.

If their complaints are caused by odors, you need to turn your compost pile more frequently, and when adding new scraps bury them at least 5 inches deep to avoid a bad smell. This trick is also important to avoid pests.

Composting needs space

You can compost in an apartment or in a van, but when it’s time to take care of your waste, you need to get rid of it someplace and that is not possible for everyone. It is important to dispose of the waste in a mindful way and in any circumstance let it abandoned in open-air in the wild or any place else. Put it in garbage bags and dispose of your waste in proper places like in the common trash, some cities have composting piles for the community, check first online and also check if you have to meet some special requirement.

If you have a house with a garden, have some space dedicated to your composting pile in the backyard. When you are a beginner it’s normal that some problems may occur, so be prepared beforehand and get a little place to your composting pile away from your living space to not attract bugs or rats. For some owners that have pride in having a beautiful backyard with an amazing garden, it’s advisable to invest or to make a compost bin. That way you can have the best of both worlds, your beautiful garden and a super environment-friendly composting pile that will supply your garden with some rich nutrients and thus, saving you money in fertilizer.

It requires time and money

As almost anything in our lives, it requires time and money. Time is required to set up your composting pile the right way initially and to do that you may need some money investment.

If you opt-in for a composting toilet it will cost you at least $1,000, if you go for a more reliable for a house, double that price. Comparing with a traditional toilet that goes from $200 to $1,000, that’s a huge difference in price. But bear with me, you’ll be saving water each time you or any member of your family uses a composting toilet.

After the initial cost, you only need to buy some bulk material or you may even have at your disposal at home like leaves or sawdust. Thus, this is not all the money, it costs about $15 for an 8 quarter bag and will be enough to provide you for 4-5 months depending on the usage.

But that’s not all, you will have to spend some time doing maintenance on your composting toilet or composting pile or even both if you have both. On the composting toilet, you need to empty the deposit when it’s full. That means that you will have to handle the waste at least once a month. No big problem if done correctly. It’s hard to believe but when the waste is composted is doesn’t smell. After each use, it is recommended you to sprinkle water and vinegar to clean the toilet. Don’t use chemicals as they can kill good bacteria that are composting your waste.

On your composting pile, you need to turn the compost weekly at least to keep the temperature high and have some gas change so the organic matter can continue to compost without releasing smell and the process is faster this way.


With everything in life, there are always pros and cons. With composting there are these disadvantages and I shared some workarounds to cope with those problems. Simple solutions. In my opinion, if you have the means to buy or build and maintain, go for this solution without doubts. This way you will be saving earth every day when using the toilet or when you have food scraps by not wasting water and avoiding that your waste encounters nature in the wrong way. Even the initial investment you will recover in less than a dozen years in water bills alone.

With simple steps that don’t require that much work, you will be making the planet a better place to live each day and in the future, your grandchild may encounter a great place to live free from pollution and all that chemicals that do so bad to our health. With you, some friends can take your lead and do the same. That’s a good thing to share with the world.


Hi, I'm Sérgio and I'm passionate about saving the environment reducing my carbon footprint and making better choices. Here I will share some tips that I'm learning on my journey of having a way of live that is more sustainable.

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