Our backyard is graced by two relatively large compost piles. Currently they reside inside tubes of wire mesh, but we plan on eventually making a three-bin composter from wood pallets once we decide on a permanent location (likely after we put in the fruit trees next spring). This was working out fine until we added ducks to the garden. We have to change out their bedding regularly and it was breaking down too slowly and taking up too much room in our slightly neglected piles. We decided a compost tumbler would take up minimal space and make compost management a bit easier for the duck pen.
All well and good until I ran into the trendy green problem. Our local garden centers and even the feed store only had highly expensive units targeted at those wanting to jump onto the backyard sustainability bandwagon more for the trend than any deep belief in the lifestyle. When we asked about lower cost models, we were told they didn't stock them because they didn't sell. One helpful sales clerk pointed to the printing on the side of a composter which read “urban green,” and further drove home the point that even in the green movement many people are label whores.
A friend of mine recently decided to keep chickens because growing your own eggs “is more sustainable and healthier for you and the environment.” She promptly spent four figures to have a plastic Eglu coop shipped in from overseas. This didn't seem too sustainable to me. Not only are those going to be some expensive eggs, the coop is made almost entirely from plastic and the carbon footprint to get it here is huge. Our $50 duck pen made from scavenged and locally purchased materials is more aesthetically pleasing and greener to boot.
So what did we do about the composter situation? Well, I'm watching Craigslist for a free or cheap metal drum that previously held food grade materials. We'll be making our own, infinitely more environmentally friendly, version soon.