If you’re interested to learn how to compost in an apartment, you’d be doing both yourself and the environment a favor. Composting is a natural process in which organic waste turns into a nutrient-rich, decomposed matter which helps plants grow. It happens by itself in nature, but you can replicate it at home with food scraps and other organic waste. The resulting compost is a natural and highly nutritious method to feed your plants and reduce food waste. If you have a home garden, house plants or just want to recycle your food scraps, here are the why, the what and the how of composting in an apartment:
Why You Should Compost in an Apartment
Organic waste, such as food scraps, yard trimmings, and paper, makes up 53% of landfills. Out of that waste, we could recycle at least 40% into compost. But why do it? First, you’re protecting the environment. In landfills, this organic waste produces methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to the climate crisis. Also, compost is a valuable resource. If you use it in your home garden, your plants will get better nutrition and retain more moisture without chemical fertilizers. And even if you just store your compost and use a collection service, you’re still making sure less methane pollutes the atmosphere.
What You Can Compost in an Apartment
You can recycle most organic waste in your apartment, but there are a few types of food and plants you should keep out of the composting process. You can compost a large amount of food waste, such as fruits and vegetables, eggshells, tea bags, and coffee grounds. When it comes to your home garden, feel free to recycle all trimmings, cuttings, leaves, and dead houseplants. You can even compost items from your bathroom and home office, such as paper, cardboard, and rags or towels made out of cotton and wool.
However, there are a few things you should steer clear of when it comes to composting. Don’t try to recycle dairy products, fats and grease, oil, animal-based scraps (except for fur), and animal feces. At the same time, while a little bit of dairy or oil won’t harm your compost, they will generate unpleasant odors, which can attract pests such as insects and rodents.
How to Compost in an Apartment
Compost Method #1: Composting with Worms
When thinking about how to compost in an apartment, worms might not be the first thing that comes to your mind. However, vermicomposters, as they’re called, are actually easy to set up and maintain. You’ll need a few items you can get at any home supplies store, such as some storage bins, a drill, dirt, and some worms, of course. Worms are easy to purchase online, so you can get started at any time.
This indoor method will get you the highest quality compost. If you’re not too squeamish, it’s also the most natural way to go about it. You can find a quick and easy step by step guide on how to set up a vermicomposter on the EPA website, and you can buy a ready-made worm composter online.
Compost Method #2: Electric Composters
Food recyclers are a great option if you don’t want to spend too much time managing your compost bin. They automate the process, which means all you need to do on a regular basis is to add your food scraps and wait for your compost to be ready. However, it comes with a drawback: electric food recyclers do just that — recycle. Technically, what they produce can’t be called compost and doesn’t have as much nutritional value, but will still be healthier for your plants than chemical fertilizers. An electric composter will dry the waste, heat it, grind it down, and then cool the material off.
The food recycler is quiet and doesn’t take up much space, so if you’d like to avoid the hassle of taking care of a worm-based composter, this solution is right for you.
Compost Method #3: Bokashi
Bokashi is another easy method to compost at home. The word comes from Japanese and means “fermented organic matter”, which is exactly what it produces. This method requires more maintenance than a food recycler but produces higher-grade fertilizer. How does it work? You use a special airtight bucket to mix in layers of kitchen scraps with an inoculant such as wheat germ and molasses and wait for it to do its magic. After a while, the fermenting waste will start producing a juice that you need to drain to avoid unpleasant odors. However, the juice is highly effective in feeding houseplants.
Bokashi produces higher quality fertilizer than electric recyclers, so if you’d like to learn how to compost in an apartment without worms, this is the best method for you. You can get stared easily with a ready-made Bokashi composting kit and find a great guide on how to set it up and get the most out of your fertilizer here.
Compost Method #4: Collection Services
Finally, if you don’t have the time or resources to start composting by yourself, check if you can find local collection services. Some local governments provide curbside organic waste collection, and in bigger cities, you can also find non-profits that will either pick up your food scraps or have drop-off boxes around the city. If you live in an apartment in Austin, for example, you can access Austin’s Resource Recovery Program.
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