From Trash to Treasure: How to Build a Compost Bin from Recycled Materials

Composting! It’s the garden gift that keeps on giving. But have you ever considered that you could make your compost bin as eco-friendly as the compost itself? Welcome to the ultimate upcycling project: building a compost bin from recycled materials. Not only will you be giving your kitchen scraps a second life, but you’ll also be repurposing items that might otherwise end up in the landfill. Let’s dive in!

Materials Needed

  • Old wooden pallets (4-6)
  • Recycled plastic bins with lids (2)
  • Metal brackets (8)
  • Screws
  • Hinges (2 sets)
  • Mesh wire
  • Old tarp or plastic sheeting
  • Optional: Paint or wood stain for aesthetics


  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Wire cutters
  • Staple gun

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Source Your Materials

Start by sourcing old wooden pallets. Many local businesses give these away for free. You’ll also need two old plastic bins—these could be old storage totes or even old recycling bins.

2. Prepare the Pallets

If the pallets are not in the best shape, use a hammer and nails to secure any loose boards. Optionally, paint or stain the pallets for added durability and aesthetics.

3. Construct the Frame

  1. Align four pallets to form a square or rectangular frame.
  2. Use metal brackets to join the corners of the pallets.
  3. Drill holes in the corners and secure the brackets with screws.

4. Add the Floor

  1. Take a fifth pallet and lay it flat to act as the floor of the compost bin.
  2. Use screws to attach this base to the sides of your frame.

5. Mesh Lining

  1. Cut mesh wire to size, ensuring it covers the interior sides of the bin.
  2. Use a staple gun to attach the mesh wire to the inside of the pallet frame. This helps keep smaller compost materials from falling out.

6. Prepare the Plastic Bins

  1. Drill 10-15 holes in the bottom of each plastic bin to allow for drainage.
  2. Place these bins inside the wooden frame. One will serve for active composting, and the other will be where the compost matures.

7. Add the Lid

  1. Attach a pallet or piece of old wood to the top as a lid.
  2. Use hinges to attach the lid to the back side of the compost bin frame.
  3. Optionally, cover the lid with an old tarp or plastic sheeting to help keep out excess rain.

Optional: Add-Ons

  • Add a latch for extra security.
  • Attach small wheels at the base for easier mobility.
  • Paint or stencil labels for “Active” and “Mature” composting stages.


And there you have it—a functional, eco-friendly compost bin made entirely from recycled materials! This project not only serves as a cost-effective way to handle your composting needs but also embodies the very essence of sustainability and upcycling. With just a little effort and ingenuity, you’ve turned trash into a true garden treasure.

Happy Composting!

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