Successful apartment composting stories wanted

BlogHer Original Post

If you have a lawn or garden, you can easily transform food scraps into healthy, eco-friendly, compost. All you need to compost is basically a bin with holes at the bottom. But apartment-dwellers who don't want to send fruit peels and veggie pieces to the landfill have a harder go of it. You need more involved equipment -- and have to get more involved yourself.

This is why I haven't started composting yet.

In fact, none of my local green, apartment-dwelling friends compost. And it's not cuz we're lazy! My friend Anna actually keeps her food scraps in a bag in her fridge, then once a week or so, bikes the load over to her parents' place -- which has an outdoor composter.

It's just tough to compost indoors. Jenn of Tiny Choices wrote a great post about the 4 ways to compost indoors. Guess what: Jenn doesn't compost herself.

And I don't blame her. And I don't blame Beth of Fake Plastic Fish either, who names a fifth method -- the Urban Compost Tumbler -- and concludes: "I've found it's not as wonderful as I'd hoped."

Lemme be a debbie downer for the moment and show why each of these 5 options suck:

1. NatureMill Indoor Composter. Downer: It costs $375.

2. Bokashi composter. Downer: It doesn't fully compost, thereby requiring that you put the bokashi'd goods into the ground or another compost bin to finish up. Um, if I had a piece of ground to call my own, or a separate compost bin, why'd I get a Bokashi?

3. Vermicomposting. Downer: It not only requires worms, but requires worm supervision to make sure they don't die. Considering I've accidentally killed mint plants -- supposedly plants that are supposed to grow like weeds with no supervision -- I really doubt I'd be able to keep worms alive, much less healthy.

4. Urban Compost Tumbler. Downer: It requires a careful mix of green and brown material; a mismix will make it smell bad. It also requires flipping a very heavy object; some people can't do it alone, and I like living alone.

5. Let someone else compost for you. Downer: It is not actually an indoor composting method. In addition, I don't know of any official composting programs I can take advantage of in L.A. If you live in New York though, let Jasmin the Worsted Witch point you toward a composting program that can help you out.

Are you a successful apartment composter? Share your story to encourage us all, and I'll do a future post about it. In the meantime, I'm going to figure out how I can push Santa Monica, the city I live in, to give us green bins we can put our food scraps in for city composting. Homeowners get these green bins, but not apartment dwellers. Surely there's a way to change this --

If you DO have a lawn or garden, compost! You might be able to save yourself a few bucks by first checking to see if your city has a program to encourage composting. L.A. sells composting bins at subsidized rates to Angelenos, for example! Unfortunately -- as usual -- these bins are for outdoor composting only.... Why do cities cater so much to homeowners, and rarely to apartment dwellers?

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BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs for the Los Angeles Times at Emerald City, and at


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