The Easiest Way to Start a Collective Compost

Making Collective Compost

In this post, we ponder the reasons for making compost, the taboos around it, the types of compost, how they are made and what materials they carry. We review examples of collective composts and how the community can put it in practice, generating neighbor participation, and where everyone can enjoy the benefits. 

In recent years, making compost is a trend, but perhaps we are not entirely clear about why to make compost or what possibilities there are if you live in a condominium.

Why do we compost

Although it seems very obvious, making compost is a way to recycle organic waste, reduce the garbage that ends up in the municipal dumps, and generate reusable fertile soil. And why you would like to produce soil?

In some places, such as the Riviera Maya, the quality of the soil is poor. And it is common to buy black soil or soil with leaf for gardening. However, this soil is taken out of the woods, and this causes soil erosion. Plus, it’s expensive. Instead, if we generate our soil, we avoid contributing to erosion, and  we can even sell the composted soil and make a profit from “the garbage.”


Some people choose not to do compost because they fear that they will have bad smells and attract rats, cockroaches or flies, among other insects. However, a well-made compost is odor-free and unattractive to insects or animals.

Types of compost

In practical terms, there are two main types of compost: aerobic and anaerobic. As their names indicate, to generate aerobic compost, you require oxygen. For the anaerobic, you don’t. You can make compost manually, or you may use some ecotechnology.   

What to use to make a compost

The materials that a good aerobic compost must have are the following: 

  • 50% to 70% organic compounds and vegetable waste. This waste could be pruning leaves, water lilies or paper,  fruits, and vegetable waste. 
  • About 10% of dry matter (sawdust, cardboard, or bark of trees). 
  • 10% of soil that allows the formation of humus. 
  • And, 10% lime or charcoal that provides phosphorus and calcium as fertilizer.
  • Water, just enough to make it moist 

You must avoid some materials to create a classic compost. For example, glass, plastic, meat or remains of bones, metals, chemicals, some citrus fruit that are too acidic or weeds.

How to make compost

Although there are many ways to make compost, there are 5 basic steps:

  1. Place a layer of vegetable waste, cover with 4 to 6 in of dry matter. Then add fruit or vegetable waste, enough water to make it moist but not wet, fertilizer, and a layer of soil, and finally, you add water again. If your compost pile looks too damp and smells, add more dry matters. 
  2. Stir all the materials until you get a homogeneous mixture. Stir the mixture every time you sprinkle to aerate it.
  3. Cover the whole mix to lower the temperature.
  4. Check it daily to ensure that the temperature at the center of the compost is kept between 130 and 150 F. Sprinkle water over the pile regularly, so it has the consistency of a damp sponge. 
  5. Wait until the microorganisms generate humus, and the soil is ready. It will be dark, and with a pleasant smell of wet earth. It may take approximately three months to one year to get it ready. However, it really depends on the weather and temperature of the place you are.

Collective composts

Can you imagine living in an area where the whole community makes compost and that it also generates benefits for everyone?

It already exists. In France, in the cities of Toulouse and Nantes, the municipality gives each building three large wooden containers, individual biodegradable bags for the organic waste of each house, dry matter, and other components. They also assign an expert to advise participating neighbors.

France-Compost planters

Compost planters in France

The first container is to collect organic waste. The second, for dry materials. Finally, the third one is to ripen the compost mix. Once ready, it is distributed among the neighbors for the community gardens or even for private use.

In Mexico, there are also places where people make collective compost with the support of municipal management. For instance, in the community of Capulhuac, Estado de Mexico, the program collects organic waste three times a week from the households, markets, and shops. They have a compost plant where they place the trash in piles and remove inorganic garbage. Then they water the compost and let it rest for six months. Later, they add vermicompost (worm earth). Finally, when it is ready, they sell it to farmers, to other municipalities, and they give it to the people for domestic use in their own gardens.

However, to sustain a successful collective compost program, people’s participation is crucial. So, this is one more reason to start the habit of separating the trash properly!

 Containers to separate trash

Containers to spare waste

What about the Riviera Maya

In the Riviera Maya, sustainable communities are emerging more and more. We support actions such as sorting our garbage so that our locality is a reference in the responsible treatment of waste. There is still a long way to go. But we have to take the first step towards sustainability.

Remember, at Top Mexico Real Estate … we make it happen!