Is it difficult to compost in an apartment?
What are some of the challenges you may encounter when you try to do this?
Is it even possible to compost in an apartment, or should you just forego it?
Many people who live in apartments strive to be greener whenever possible. However, living an eco-friendly lifestyle in a small space with no backyard can be challenging and sometimes even impossible.
It’s not, however, impossible to compost in an apartment! If you’ve ever wanted to start composting but worry you don’t have enough space for it, don’t worry. You have several options, and in this article, we’ll teach you about all of them.
Learn how to compost in an apartment below, and take your time checking out the options so you can pick the one that will work best for your situation.
JUMP TO A SECTION:
Options for Apartment Composting
There are a few different choices you can make when deciding how to begin composting in your apartment. The most popular of these choices include the following:
- Worm Bin – This method involves setting up a bin with dirt, composting material, and plenty of worms to process everything.
- Bokashi – With this method, you’ll need to buy a specialized bucket or bin as well as special activator fluid, but you don’t need as much space or time to compost.
- Freezer Storage – If all else fails, gather your composting materials and keep them in the freezer before sending them away to be processed in a facility.
Option #1: Worm Bin Composting
Worm bins are a popular method of composting in smaller spaces as well as in larger homes. Worms do a good job at helping to break down your compost and keep it functioning the way it’s supposed to, as well. And since worms don’t like to escape, they aren’t usually an apartment risk, either.
1. Worm bin composting requires plenty of carbon sources.
Carbon sources are also known as brown materials. Worms require a lot of carbon in order to thrive, so your compost should have plenty of this to keep them going strong from start to finish.
- These sources include any type of paper as well as dry leaves. Paper and dry leaves both break down at similar rates, so it’s really up to you to choose whichever of these is best for your composting situation.
- You may also use cardboard, but it can take a bit longer to break down than other forms of paper. If you want to use cardboard, you’ll need to break it down yourself into very small pieces beforehand. For this reason, it may not be a good idea to begin a worm bin with cardboard, although you can always add it later.
- Shredding your paper may help speed up the process, just like breaking down your cardboard can.
2. This type of composting also requires plenty of nitrogen.
Microorganisms require nitrogen to do their job effectively. Nitrogen is also known as green materials in the world of composting.
- This comes from sources such as food waste. Vegetable and fruit peels, trimmings, and leftovers are all good sources of green materials for composting.
- You may also be able to use grass clippings, healthy plant trimmings, or coffee grounds and tea bags for this purpose (as long as the tea bags are paper and biodegradable).
3. Compost should b around 50/50 on carbon and nitrogen materials.
This is true of almost all compost, but it’s especially true when worms are going to be a part of the equation.
4. Pick up worms known as “red wigglers” at any bait shop.
Some local hardware stores and pet stores may also carry these types of worms. These are the best type of worm for composting and will get started on processing your compost almost right away, once you get the bin set up.
5. Keep your worms at room temperature.
Worms don’t need to be too hot or too cold, and if they overheat or freeze they will die. When you keep your worms at room temperature, you’re making it easier for them to do their job effectively. This is also easier for you, especially when you live in an apartment!
6. Do not add meat, dairy, or citrus to the worm bin.
Although some types of compost piles, especially in backyards, can handle this type of waste, worms cannot. Citrus peels take a long time to break down, while meat may take a while and can also create harmful pathogens in the compost. Dairy smells strongly as it breaks down and is likely too smelly for an apartment.
Option #2: Bokashi Composting
Bokashi is a newer concept in apartment-based composting, but it’s a popular choice that works well for many people. It’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about bokashi buckets before you buy one, since they may be a little more challenging than they seem, especially for beginners.
1. Bokashi is even simpler than the worm bin method.
For this method, you don’t need much space at all, and you will be able to process it entirely in your apartment.
2. To try bokashi, you will first need to buy a bokashi bin or bucket.
This is the most costly part of the setup, but after this step, you will be able to compost for very little cost moving forward.
3. First, add your compost to the bucket.
Some types of bins may require some soil to be added into the bucket first, but others don’t. Be sure to read up on the specific bucket you purchase in order to operate it correctly and add the compost in the right order.
4. Next, mash it down.
As you mash the compost down, you’re making room for more compostable materials. This will also help jumpstart the breakdown process and make it easier for the compost to begin processing sooner rather than later.
5. Finally, add a special activator that introduces healthy microbes into your compost.
This activator liquid contains microorganisms that are necessary for composting in a healthy and efficient manner. This is another cost to consider, as you’ll need to buy more of this if your compost pile ever fails.
6. Continue adding compost scraps to the bucket as needed, but don’t overload it.
You should be able to add a few more rounds before you have to worry about overflowing the bucket. You may be able to mash it down again, depending on how much time has gone by. Within about four weeks, you should have compost.
So what do you think? Which method is best for apartment life? Which one will work for you and your needs better than the others?
If you live in a place where you simply don’t have room for anything else, freezer storage may be your best bet.
On the other hand, if you do have room for a small bucket, bokashi might work for you.
And finally, if you have a little more space and aren’t afraid of worms (or concerned about what your landlord might say), go for the tried-and-true worm bin instead.
No matter which of these methods you choose to go with, you’re sure to be pleased with the results of your apartment-based composting adventures!