If I had to choose the single most, impactful sustainable lifestyle change it would have to be composting. Hands down. 2/3 of our waste is organic meaning it can likely be composted. I say likely, because some organics really aren’t suitable for composting but that’s for a different post. But seriously, just by composting, 60% of our waste is diverted from landfill. And don’t think you can’t compost in an apartment, because surprise, you can!
It does seem tricky, time consuming, and impossible, but hear me out. Composting can be rewarding and a fun way to get the family to work together. Composting can be a lot more attainable than you think since there are so many options these days!
How to Compost in an Apartment
If you have a patio or balcony area, you may have enough room to have a small compost bin. You can either buy a fancy compost bin or you can DIY one out of a plastic tub. It really doesn’t take much to start composting. As long as you keep your browns (things from trees like saw dust and leaves) to green (everything else) at about 50/50, things will break down rapidly! Soon you’ll have rich compost that you can either use in house plants, give to friends or neighbors, or dump in a green space. It is just dirt, you know?
Vermicomposting is a form of composting that uses worms to break down organic matter. And yes, you can do this indoors. Worm bins are usually pretty easy to take care of. As long as they are kept at a steady temperature they are good to go. Worms don’t have to be fed every day so if you already produce very little food waste, this is a great option. However, if you produce a substantial about of food waste and food scraps, this option might not be the best as it does take time for the worms to do their thing. There are also a few foods like citrus, that aren’t so great for them as well.
Bokashi is a form of composting that utilizes an anaerobic process to break down all food waste even including meat and dairy. Inoculated bran is mixed with the waste to ferment scraps inside a closed system. After about 10 days, the waste is fermented but not entirely broken down. At this point, the waste can be buried (away from garden plants) or dumped into regular compost. Bottom line, you will still need to have some sort of compost bin to dump the waste as this system doesn’t entirely break everything down – it does speed it up so would be a good supplement step.
If you don’t have time to do the composting yourself, no problem. ShareWaste is a web application that brings together people in your community that either compost themselves or those who are looking to drop off compost. Find neighbors who have compost bins, contact them through the app, and drop off your scraps. It’s the future of compost sharing!
If you can’t take care of your compost immediately, don’t worry about it sitting around getting nasty. Just keep it in a bowl in your freezer. That will keep your compost smell-free until you are able to take care of it.
Local Community Garden
Many neighborhoods and communities have local, public garden spaces that allow residents to purchase a plot to grow food. These gardens sometimes have composting onsite allowing the gardeners a place to put vegetative waste to naturally break down. The compost is then used to enhance the soil quality of the plots. Contact these community gardens to see if it’s ok for you to add your home compost. Many would be happy to have it.
Compost Drop Off
Check around your local community to see if there are any places for public compost drop offs. If you are unsure about where one would be located in your community, reach out to local zero waste groups or sustainable living groups in social media spaces. Also, contact your local farmer’s markets for assistance in finding a drop off location.
Pick Up Service
Many communities also have subscription type compost pick up programs that will drop a bucket off on your door step then pick up after a week or two. Prices are pretty reasonable and most services will even give you bags of compost here and there for being a patron.
Contact Local Farms
A lot of local farms who have livestock or even just grow seasonal produce might be happy to take your food scraps for no cost. It never hurts to just ask, right?
And if none of the options above are realistic for you, just simply reduce as much food waste and organic waste as possible. Cook with scraps, eat your pantries, store your food correctly, and make sure those leftovers get eaten. There are many ways to reduce food waste without composting. For more ideas to reduce food waste, check out my post HERE.