Thinking about composting at home but you live in an apartment or condominium? There are plenty of ways to compost in an apartment, and here are all the details for a variety of ways to compost in an apartment or condominium.
Can you compost in an apartment? Definitely. Is it the same as composting in a home with outdoor space? Most likely not.
If you don’t have a large yard or open space in which to create a compost pile or heap, have no composting fear. There are many options to compost in apartments or small spaces outdoors. In some cases, you’ll benefit from the nutrient-rich humus and other systems take your food scraps elsewhere to decompose. But either way, you can definitely compost in an apartment.
Even Small Composting Systems Matter
Composting indoors or composting in a small space will likely reduce the amount of matter you can compost and the amount of finished compost you’ll create. None-the-less, there’s still an opportunity to create finished compost for indoor houseplants, container gardens, and small beds around a yard.
Furthermore, organic matter typically emits greenhouse gases when it decomposes in a landfill. Alternatively, organic matter decomposing with oxygen in a proper compost bin or system generates water, oxygen, a bit of carbon dioxide, and nutrient-rich soil matter that helps new plants flourish.
In other words, compost your food scraps if you can. Even if we all composted half of our food scraps in smaller containers and systems, it would have a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and replenishing soil health.
6 Ways To Compost In An Apartment or Small Space
If you’re looking to compost in an apartment or small space, here are some ideas to ensure your food scraps don’t become a vehicle for more emission or atmosphere-heating greenhouse gases on our planet.
Compost Pick Up Service
If it’s in your budget, using a pick-up service might be the easiest way to compost indoors or in a small space. There are many companies, like WasteWell(!) that provide pick up service subscriptions.
In some places, municipalities pick-up organic matter for composting. If that’s the case for you, consider yourself one lucky duck! While it might seem counterintuitive for us to promote municipal programs, our big mission is to help make composting accessible to everyone. We think municipal programs play a big part in bringing that goal to fruition.
If you use a private or municipal pick up service, you typically collect your food scraps in an airtight bucket. Each week or two, your food scraps are picked up and delivered to a local composting site where they are maintained and turned into finished compost.
As a customer, you may even be able to stop by the composting site periodically to pick up finished compost that you can bring back home to replenish the soil in containers and raised beds around your living space.
Interestingly enough, some municipalities require organic waste to be collected and composted. Be sure to find out if it’s available in your area. If not, maybe you can work with your municipality to start a local organic waste collection program!
Supplies Needed | None (other than the bucket provided by your pick up service)
Vermicomposting is the practice of composting in an enclosed worm bin. These systems can be really simple or very fancy, depending on the amount of space available and how much you want to spend. Many people make DIY worm bins. You can also buy a worm bin; there are lots of options.
Worms live in the bin and eat food scraps. Their poop creates nutrient-rich humus that can be added to soil or used to create a compost tea to pour on the soil.
Supplies Needed | It really depends on how you vermicompost. If you make your own bin, there are lots of online tutorials which will list their specific supplies. If you buy a worm bin that is prefabricated or you need to put together, each of those bins should have a list of materials needed.
ShareWaste is an app that connects compost “hosts” (people with compost bins, tumblers, or other systems who collect food scraps) with “donors” (people who donate their food scraps to a compost bin). It’s really simple to use and is available around the world.
If you would like to compost food scraps and have nowhere to create a composting site or container, be sure to download the app and check for compost hosts in your area. It’s really easy to use, and all messaging is through the app so you don’t have to tell the host where you live if you are concerned about privacy.
Supplies Needed | Countertop compost container
Friend or Neighbor
If you have a friend or a neighbor who composts, ask if you can put your food scraps in their bin. As long as you respect their rules about what types of items can and cannot be tossed into their compost, we bet they’d be tickled pink you inquired. It can’t hurt to ask! It’s like ShareWaste without the app.
Supplies Needed | Countertop compost container
Electronic Indoor Compost Bins
If you’re willing to invest a decent chunk of change, there are a few compost bin appliances that live in your kitchen. Examples include the Food Cycler and the Zera Food Recycler. They breakdown food in a few hours or days and produce a finished product that is great as a soil amendment. It can be used in gardens as well as houseplants, containers, and even just sprinkled on grass or soil if you don’t have another use for it.
Be cognizant of the trade-offs of using electricity to expedite the decomposition process in exchange for getting finished compost quickly and indoors. Most of our electricity comes from fossil fuels currently, so using fossil fuels to reduce methane gas emissions in landfills might not be the best trade-off.
However, it does offer another option to those with financial resources but lacking space to reduce waste and help feed soil with nutrient-rich organic matter. Also, these machines can compost things like meat and dairy that aren’t great for backyard composting bins because they take a while to break down, cause odors, and attract animals.
Supplies Needed | Aside from the compost container itself, you probably won’t need too many supplies. Each of the respective bins will have it’s own set of information.
Community Drop-Off Site
If you don’t have space or aren’t allowed to compost on your own property, there are a variety of drop off sites to which you can bring your food scraps, yard waste, and other organic matter. For example, many farmers’ markets collect food scraps. Community gardens or school gardens also may accept food scraps from local residents. Lots of municipalities have waste collection sites that take organic matter and food scraps.
This directory from Recycle Search isn’t perfectly complete, but it’s a starting point to help you find a place to drop food scraps or pick up finished compost.
Supplies Needed | Countertop compost container, a bucket or container to carry the food scraps to your compost host
If you want to compost at home and live in an apartment, there are definitely ways to make it happen. If you live in our service area, we would (of course) love to help you out and welcome you to sign up for our compost pick-up service.
No matter where you live, definitely check out the options above and explore ways you can compost in your local area even if you don’t have outdoor space of your own.