Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Composting and Apartment Living

I started reading Zero Waste Home, which is a guidebook for how to eliminate waste in your home and, in general, contribute to a greener world. The book is based on the blog of the same name. I read the blog last spring and went over what I do and don't do as far as eliminating waste is concerned. I'm now taking a deeper look at the subject. First up is the idea of composting.

Is it possible to compost in an urban apartment? "Yes, but..." would be my answer. I've looked into a few ideas, and I'm not quite sold on any of them yet.

1. Stealth Composting
This is probably the least expensive option - you pay for the materials you need. But it requires more maintenance and a greater understand of composting in general. It also takes a few months to produce actual dirt for use. This one would probably be the most rewarding of the options. I would create the system and teach myself how to use it.

2. Nature Mill Compost Bin
The reviews on these have been all over the map, which is why I hesitate. Some love it, some say the design is shoddy and the company doesn't stand by the product. The convenience of this thing is its biggest selling point. You put in your scraps and it turns itself for you and in two weeks you have dirt. Those truly "green" folk would say this isn't worth it because you are buying another product that you could easily make at home with stealth composting. It also uses electricity, albeit a very small amount. But the convenience for an apartment dweller is almost cancelling out the negative reviews.

3. Vermicomposting
This involves buying red worms and setting up a bin for them to do their magic. This is appealing because it seems to take up little space, but means I'll have to keep those littler critters happy. I consider this to be on the same level as stealth composting. It is rewarding in the long run but a bit more complicated to start.

4. Composting Services such as Compost Cab and Fat Worm Composting.
This is definitely the simplest option. You pay a service to come get your food scraps for you. In exchange, you get some dirt every once in a while. I'm unlikely to do this because I don't want to pay for such a service. I would rather DC come up with a good curbside composting system like Seattle and San Francisco. But until that happens, this is a viable option, I guess.

Put your indoor composting tips in the comments! Have you ever tried any of the above?


  1. I live in a condo that actually has compost pick up (woohoo!) so I just toss mine down the compost chute. One suggestion I DO have (if youre not actively making dirt) is to keep your compost in the freezer- no fruit flies!! I also save a lot of my scraps to make chicken stock from.

  2. Good advice, Casey! I've never made homemade chicken stock. I wish we had a compost pick up in my building. Maybe I need to join the tenant's association and suggest it :)