Composting In An Apartment

November 08, 2018

Composting In An Apartment

Composting is one of the most effective ways we can reduce our waste and turn it into something useful. It’s an essential tool for living a low waste lifestyle and it’s pretty simple to do, in theory. As an apartment-dweller, however, it’s a bit more complicated.

In my struggles to find a solution to eliminating food waste, I've learned a lot about composting in an apartment. What I've learned is: it’s frustrating. Many of the suggestions I’ve found for composting indoors prove to be unrealistic or inconvenient. There’s no real solution if you’re apartment dweller without access to a balcony, small patch of garden, or a courtyard; if the local council doesn’t collect your food waste you either have to pay to have it collected (which is a challenge in itself) or send it to the landfill.

I want to talk about the main ways you can compost at home, the problems I’ve found with them, what the most practical solution is, and how I’ve chosen to tackle my own food waste.




Vermicomposting

This is the most realistic and effective solution to tackling food waste in an apartment because it’s compact, portable and fast. Vermicomposting involves using specific types of worms to eat and digest the organic waste you feed them. What you’re left with is a rich, high quality compost suitable for windowsill gardening and potting houseplants. If you’re up for the challenge you can make your own worm bin or purchase a ready-made wormery. I’m not sure how I feel about using worms for composting and there’s limited room for a wormery in my kitchen but if you’re OK with it and don’t mind housing them indoors, vermicomposting is definitely the best option for apartment composting.



Food Waste Collection

If you live in an area where curbside food waste collection is not available, you may want to look into private services. It’s perhaps the more convenient method of dealing with food waste and relatively trouble-free, although having someone pickup your compost rather than composting your own comes at a price. Private food waste collection appears to be a more commonly available service in the US than the UK so perhaps a few letters and phone calls to your local council requesting food collection might be in order. I’ve gotten in contact with my local council to demand better services and food waste collection for apartments.



Food Waste Drop-off

If you can’t find (or don’t want to pay for) someone to collect your food waste, you may have more luck dropping it off at a community garden, allotment, or local market. See if there are any places local to you that encourage people to drop-off their compost. If you have friends who own allotments or know traders at the market, ask if they wouldn’t mind adding your scraps to their compost pile. To store your food waste in the meantime, freeze it in bags or containers. I know a couple of places that would gladly accept food waste for composting, having space to store it and arranging a drop-off can be tricky without a car though.



Trench Composting

If you have access to a communal green patch or don’t mind digging up public land, receiving funny looks from your neighbours and risking getting into trouble, trench composting might be for you. Dig a trench, add compostable materials, and then bury it. It’s simple but not without some glaringly obvious problems. I wouldn’t recommend this method of composting; if you have a communal area to dig a trench in, you’d be better off trying to get away with putting a compost bin on it instead.



Bokashi Bin

I was reluctant to include this method but since Bokashi bins are frequently recommended as a suitable option for composting in an apartment, I thought I should include it if only to warn you of the problems. What makes a Bokashi bin unsuitable for apartment composing is, it doesn’t compost your food waste, it ferments it. What you’re left with is ‘pre-compost’, which requires further steps (read: a compost bin) to finish it off. The Bokashi method is wholly impractical and unrealistic for most apartment dwellers, and only really suitable for those who have access to an outdoor compost bin.




After weighing up the limited options, I opted to take the risk of buying a standard compost bin and putting it in our our apartment’s communal courtyard, hoping it isn’t a problem. Fortunately I found a supplier that works with my local council to provide affordable bins. The worst case scenario is it gets removed and I’m out of pocket. I can live with that if it means I get to give composting a shot.

If you have some sort of an outdoor space you could commandeer, I would urge you to figure out some way of setting up a compost bin in it, without getting into too much trouble of course. An outdoor compost bin involves much less fuss and is far more convenient and if you can avoid composting indoors, you'll find the process a whole lot easier.




Do you compost your waste?
Leave your tips or questions in the comments.



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Composting In An Apartment




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