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Easy Steps to Compost in an Apartment and Reduce Waste

Don't let apartment living cramp your composting style! Get ready to transform your kitchen scraps into compost gold, right from the cozy confines of your own home. We've got the ultimate guide to apartment composting that will turn your waste into a sustainable superpower. Say goodbye to FOMO and hello to nutrient-rich soil. Let's dive in and rock your compost game!

Apartment with houseplants

Step 1: Choose the Right Composting Method

There are various composting methods available for apartment dwellers. Let's explore two popular options:

  1. Vermicomposting: Vermicomposting uses red worms to break down organic waste. It is an excellent choice for small spaces. First, get your free upcycled worm compost bin from Let's Go Compost. Place bedding materials like shredded newspaper in the bin and introduce the worms. Then, add your kitchen scraps, such as fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and tea bags. Avoid adding meat, dairy, and oily foods. Regularly moisten the bedding and keep the bin in a cool, dark place.

  2. Bokashi Composting: Bokashi composting is an anaerobic fermentation process that can handle a wider range of organic waste, including meat and dairy products. Begin by obtaining a bokashi bin, which is airtight and equipped with a drainage system. Add your food waste to the bin, sprinkling a handful of bokashi bran over each layer. The bran contains beneficial microorganisms that aid in the fermentation process. Once the bin is full, allow it to ferment for about two weeks. Then, bury the fermented waste in a pot or an outdoor garden bed, where it will continue to break down.

Step 2: Collect and Store Organic Waste

Designate a small container in your kitchen to collect organic waste. Use a lidded container or a compost caddy with a charcoal filter to prevent odors. Keep it easily accessible to encourage everyone in the household to participate. When adding waste, chop larger pieces into smaller bits to expedite the composting process. Remember to exclude non-compostable items such as plastic, metal, and glass.

Step 3: Manage Odors and Fruit Flies

To prevent unpleasant odors and fruit flies, follow these simple tips:

  1. Layer dry materials: Add a layer of dry leaves, shredded paper, or sawdust over the food waste in your worm bin or bokashi bin. This helps absorb moisture and reduce smells.

  2. Bury the waste: When disposing of bokashi fermented waste, ensure it is covered with soil or compost to deter pests and eliminate odors.

  3. Freeze or refrigerate: If you're concerned about odors or fruit flies, consider freezing or refrigerating your food scraps until you're ready to compost them. This slows down decomposition and keeps your kitchen smelling fresh.

Person peeling onion

Step 4: Maintain the Composting System

To maintain a healthy composting system, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  1. Moisture level: Composting requires the right amount of moisture. In vermicomposting, ensure that the bedding is damp, but not soggy. For bokashi composting, monitor the moisture level of the fermented waste and adjust as needed.

  2. Turning or stirring: If you're using a worm bin, avoid over-mixing the bedding. Worms will naturally move through the materials. In bokashi composting, there's no need to turn the waste as the fermentation process occurs without oxygen.

  3. Regular checks: Monitor your compost regularly to ensure it's progressing well. Adjust the conditions if necessary, such as adding more bedding material to your worm bin or checking the drainage system of your bokashi bin.

Step 5: Harvest and Use the Compost

In vermicomposting, the worms will naturally process the organic waste, turning it into nutrient-rich castings. When the bedding material has transformed into dark, crumbly compost, it's time to harvest it. Gently separate the worms from the compost by using the "migration method" or by creating a worm-free zone in the bin. The harvested compost can be used to enrich your potted plants, balcony gardens, or donated to a community garden.

For bokashi composting, once the waste has fully fermented, it can be buried in a pot or an outdoor garden bed. Allow the compost to continue decomposing for a few weeks before using it as a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Alternatively, you can bury it directly in your houseplants' soil for added nourishment.

Compost bin with purple flowers in soil forming heart

Composting in an apartment is a rewarding and sustainable way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich compost. By choosing the right composting method, collecting and storing organic waste properly, managing odors and fruit flies, maintaining the composting system, and harvesting and using the compost effectively, you can turn your kitchen scraps into valuable resources. Embrace the power of composting, even in small living spaces, and contribute to a greener and more environmentally friendly world.

Remember, every small action counts, and your efforts in composting can make a significant impact on the health of our planet. So, let's go compost in our apartments and be a part of the solution!

Let’s Go Compost is a community-led effort to make compost bins free and accessible. We upcycle empty bulk ingredient bins into free, food-safe worm compost bins that are donated back to the community. Click here to get a free compost bin at our next pick up event.


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