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The food you throw away in your trash sits undisturbed in a mountain of garbage for years. Even though your scraps are biodegradable, they need oxygen to complete the process of breaking down and returning to the earth. However, landfills aren’t aerated, so your leftovers tend to mummify rather than rot. Switching to composting can be an easy way to do your part for the environment.
But what if you don’t have a backyard? Is composting in an apartment impossible? Not at all. We’ve rounded up our favorite ways for city dwellers to get rid of table scraps while helping the planet — your house plants will thank you too.
1. Compost Tumblers
Composting might conjure images of stinky piles of waste sitting in the backyard. While that’s certainly an option for some, it won’t work in an apartment. Compact tumblers are a way of containing your scraps. All you need to do is add your leftovers and turn the handle a few times each week. These are ideal if you live in an apartment with a patio.
2. Worm Composter
If you don’t have a balcony or you’d prefer to keep your compost indoors, a worm composter might be a great option. All you need is a plastic bin with holes for oxygen and composting worms like red wigglers. This method doesn’t require turning since the worms do that for you. You can make your own bin or buy one with a bit more style.
3. Simple Bin Composters
Another option for composting in an apartment inside or outside is a simple bin composter. These can be as large or small as you need to fit your ideal space and amount of food scraps. You can tuck big bins under your sink or in a closet. Some companies even make compact versions to sit on your counter. Instead of using worms or rotation for your compost, these simple designs use a packet of chemicals to create a reaction that breaks things down quickly.
4. Community or Building Compost Bin
Don’t like the idea of storing compost in your apartment but don’t have a patio? See if your building has a communal compost bin. You might be surprised at the number of complexes with this offering. If that isn’t an option, ask around for community composting locations.
5. Compost Collection Service
Another option is to use a compost collection service. Not all cities have this offering, but you can check with your trash collection company. In places where this service is available, you’ll likely get a special bin to put your compostable items in and set it out each week with your other garbage.
6. Save Scraps for the Farmer’s Market
Many farmers with stalls at the local farmer’s market will have large compost piles back home. Some are even willing to take your scraps to add to their heap. Ask around to see if you can make an arrangement with someone. While you wait to hand over your compostables each week, store them in a container in the freezer so they don’t start to smell from decomposition.
What to Do With Compost
After three months to a year, depending on the scraps you use, your dedication and your chosen method, you’ll have plenty of nutrient-rich fertilizer. To test its readiness, put some in a plastic bag and seal it for a few days. When you open it up, there should be no lingering rot smell.
If it has an earthy odor, the fertilizer is ready to use. Spread it on your indoor plants or talk to your building manager about spreading it on plants around the complex. Composting in an apartment is as easy as that.