From banana peels, apple cores to coffee grounds, and avocado pits in the back of your fridge, which has turned a funny color, a lot of what we throw in the trash is degradable food waste. These kitchen scraps do not have to go to landfills and can be used to make compost instead.
If you have a backyard, a compost pile is something that is easy to set up, but what about those who live in an apartment?
Anyone can still do it when living in an apartment building, although it will require a more compact method than the traditional backyard compost pile. For apartment living, worm composting, tumblers, or an electric food digester are your best options. You can use the compost you make to feed your own house plants or donate what you don’t need.
It is a great way to save money and get fresh vegetables. It also helps reduce the amount of food waste in landfills. There are many different methods, but they can all be confusing and complicated to beginners. This guide will teach you how to compost in an apartment so that your first experience with composting is low-cost and straightforward!
What Is Compost?
What exactly is compost? Although it may look like it, it is not soil but decomposed organic material.
Since compost is composed entirely of organic matter, you do not plant things directly in it! Instead, we use it as a potting soil enricher. Fertilizer feeds your plants, but compost works on the soil itself, giving your plants the opportunity of a healthier home.
Farmers use it to improve the moisture retention of their soil and encourage beneficial fungi, worms, and microbes in a thriving ecosystem which is better for your plants overall.
Many people make their own by allowing organic waste to decompose. It could be materials like carrot tops, tea bags, meat, salad greens, rotten fruit, and any other content. Make sure not to add materials like animal waste, plastic, or non-biodegradable trash bags.
The decomposition process occurs naturally under the right circumstances, and people use different methods to achieve these circumstances. If done correctly, decomposition will turn all of the organic material you add into a dark brown loamy substance. This is compost!
What does composting have to do with Climate Change?
There are so many benefits associated with homemade green solutions like composting -- saving money by offsetting expensive fertilizers, reducing the carbon footprint by re-using organic materials that would otherwise be thrown away.
Composting is a great option to help mitigate the environmental impact of our waste. It turns organic materials into rich environment, making it ideal for gardens and farms, which sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
It uses heat and bacteria to break down organic materials, releasing the gases CO2 and methane into the atmosphere.
This not only reduces methane gas emissions to the earth but is also a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Can You Compost If You Live in An Apartment?
Some people have this misconception that composting takes up too much space, or they don't have enough free land available. Well, what if you could make your own compost bin right inside your kitchen?
Decomposition requires two things: time and the right environment.
This means that you need a place with the right conditions where your compost can be left undisturbed to create a finished product. If you have a garden, finding such an area is simple, but what if you live in an apartment.
Apartment dwellers and many of them are not keen on using their balconies for composting.
In a small space, it can be difficult due to the lack of oxygen. This results in anaerobic decomposition, which produces high levels of gas (methane) and low amounts of soil-building
To prevent this from happening indoors, the key is you must keep your compost pile moist.
Here are several methods that use closed systems that can be contained in your apartment.
What Are Your Options for Composting in An Apartment?
Now that we have covered the basics of what compost is and confirmed that you could do it, it is time to dive into exactly how. You may be picturing a bucket full of bugs and rotting food waste or a science experiment that requires precision and a chemistry degree.
Fortunately, the apartment compost is neither that messy nor that complicated. Three main methods are accessible in your home.
1. Compost with Worms
What are compost bin worms? Worms are nature’s natural decomposers. You can make a compost bin with composting worms you get from a local bait shop or buy them from a worm supplier. Red wigglers are a popular type of worm for a compost bin.
Vermicomposting is relatively simple. You simply fill a container (either a pre-made worm bin or a DIY) with your worms, food waste, and a source of carbon (wet shredded newspapers are a favorite). The worms break everything down and excrete worm castings!
The best worm bins have multiple levels. Multiple levels give you a place to add your new waste while still harvesting your finished compost.
Pros of worm bin composting
Cons of worm bin composting
DIY Worm Composting Bin
Making your own worm compost bin is both cheap and straightforward. Here is how to create one.
- 1Find two sealable plastic piles.
- 2Drill holes in both the top and bottom of each pile. The top holes are for ventilation, and the bottom is for drainage holes. The hole in the middle allow for worm travel between containers.
- 3Fill the pile a third full of wet paper, newspaper or
coconut coir growing medium
- 4Add your worms and food scraps, and let the worms get to work! Fill up one container at a time so that you have a place to put your fresher scraps while the other bin decomposes.
2. Compost Tumbler for Kitchen Scraps
How do you compost an apartment without worms?
You can use a tumbler. It works without the worms part, but it requires turning.
You see, decomposing is a chemical breakdown process that occurs in the middle of your compost piles. To ensure that every part gets decomposed, you have to turn your compost to give the stuff on the outside time in the middle where the breakdown happens.
Tumblers are a contained version of a compost pail that makes turning easier. These containers give you a place to store your compost and come with handles that allow you to turn it without opening the tumbler and digging around. They are also sealed, which prevents messes and keeps the heat in, speeding up the decomposing.
Two-sided tumblers give you a place to store fresh compost and compost that is already well along.
Pros of compost tumblers
Cons of compost tumblers
3. Electric Kitchen Composter for Food Scraps
What are electric composters? Composting is a natural process, so technically electric composters do not exist. However, an electrical food digester can amount to pretty much the same thing.
You can put any food scraps in these digesters, and it will turn that waste into a usable fertilizer overnight. The main difference is that the material these machines produce is not technically compost, but it is plant food.
Pros of electric kitchen composters
CONS OF ELECTRIC KITCHEN COMPOSTERS
What to Use Compost For?
Now that you know how you can make compost in your apartment, you may be wondering what to do with it. If you do make it, you want a plan on how to use it!
Here are three ways you can use the apartment compost:
1. Feeding your Garden
The first and most common use is feeding your houseplants. If you have gardening pots in your apartment, you can mix compost with the
2. Brew Compost Tea
Another option is you can feed your vegetables is by making compost tea. You can make a “tea” by soaking your compost and other ingredients in water. This “tea” is then used to feed your plants. There is a bit more to the exact process than that. There are lots of simple recipes for compost tea you find and try on the internet!
3. Donating It
Maybe you don’t have many houseplants, or perhaps you simply made way too much of it. What can you do if you don’t have plants to feed? Even if you don’t have plants who need your compost, chances are someone does! You can donate it to neighbors, friends, or even a community garden. It is in high demand amongst gardeners, so ask around!
Like you’ve read in this information guide, composting in an apartment is something that may seem like a messy nightmare, but it is pretty doable, and you do not have to be farmers to do it!
Apartment composting is still one of the greatest ways to reduce your trash production, create excellent free plant food, and donate some back to a community garden!