Apartment-dwellers may think that it's impossible for them to compost because they don't have a backyard in which to locate a compost heap or a garden in which to use the resulting material.
However, the truth is that composting doesn't necessarily require a lot of space, and it can even be done in a small bin indoors. Lacking a way to use compost also doesn't have to be a barrier, as there are often plenty of people who will gladly accept this material.
Composting is an important part of any eco-friendly lifestyle. The EPA estimates that 24 to 30 percent of household waste can be composted, which would keep it out of the landfill.
When compostable waste is buried in a landfill, it decomposes and produces methane, which is 25 times more damaging than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Composting can both reduce these emissions and create an additive for gardens that's nutrient-rich and helps to ward off diseases and pests.
For more information on composting and all of its benefits (and some myths), take a look at the following resources.
Here are a few ways you can take advantage of composting while living in an apartment.
Using a worm bin, or vermicomposting, is a technique that allows you to have a compost bin in your kitchen or out on a balcony. If managed correctly, this technique should produce worm castings that are much higher in both macro- and micronutrients than a traditional garden compost. Red worms are the best type to use. It's not advisable to look for earthworms in your backyard.
Find worms from a reputable seller, then buy or construct a simple bin. Remember that the worms will need bedding, such as shredded newspaper or cardboard, in addition to the food scraps they're given. They will eat and break down this material, as well.
These resources will tell you everything you need to know to create your own worm bin:
This method is gaining popularity quickly, and when done correctly, it can break down kitchen scraps quite quickly. This process uses fermentation, combining layers of compostable material with an inoculant mixture containing microorganisms and either bran or sawdust.
The mixture is kept in an airtight container with a spigot at the bottom, which is used to drain liquids from the mixture as it is created. This "juice" can be used as a fertilizer, and after 10 days, the mixture itself can be removed from the container and buried in a garden.
One drawback is that this material must be buried rather than applied on the surface of the soil. However, one major plus is that the bokashi method allows you to compost fatty materials that can't go into a regular compost pile.
Organic and small-scale farmers tend to have very active compost piles and will usually take your food scraps from you if you don't want to compost them yourself.
This helps them to produce better crops, and it's also a good way to get more involved with your local community of food producers.
Not all cities have municipal composting, but it's certainly worth checking to see if yours does. If your community offers pickup of your compostable materials, take advantage. If it doesn't, there's never been a better time than now to advocate for such a program.
Community gardens usually have compost piles, and most would love the added nutrients. Just make sure you talk to the members and supervisors of the garden before adding to their compost, as they might have guidelines that need to be followed.
The internet is a vast network of people and ideas, and plenty of information can be found on composting from websites, podcasts and other people who compost. Look around and you're sure to find plenty of helpful resources and advice.