Urban Composting Overview
How to Cultivate your Own Urban Compost Bin
Apartment dwellers and urban composter wannabies can now make their dreams of cultivating a compost bin of their own a reality! There are many excellent composting options for urbanites today—some simple and breezy and others more adventurous and complex. Regardless of how much organic waste you produce or how large the size of your family, with our urban composting solutions, there’ll be no more roadblocks stopping you from composting bliss.
Different types of urban composters
Got a home without even a 1 m sq. patio? Even if your home is completely devoid of any outdoor space, you too can compost with kitchen composters. These tiny contraptions (think large kitchen rubbish bin) fit in small spaces and won’t stink up your house either. They’re easy to use, won’t cost a bunch, and can accommodate a surprising amount of organic waste. Most will produce a load of compost in four to six weeks.
- Microbe composters: These devices, often called Bokashi composters, use microbes to quickly create heat and break down your organic waste.
- Electric/automatic composters: These will also provide rapid decomposition for your organics, but instead of adding microbes, you flip a switch to use electricity to generate heat.
Check out our kitchen compost bins overview for more information.
Worm composting bins
Perhaps a little more comlex than kitchen composters, worm bins will require a little more time and attention, but it’s well worth it, especially since the compost produced by worms is far superior to most other compost varieties. These are set up in dark lidded bins full of bedding (newspaper, leaves, and the like) and earthworms that do the decomposition work for you in thanks for providing them with an abundance of high-quality food.
When you're ready we have a ton of information on worm composting.
Urban tumbler composters
Got a small porch or balcony? Then you may be able to try out an urban tumbler composter. These batch composters allow you to add a whole load of organic material all at once, which will then need to be tumbled or turned once every day or so to keep aeration and heat at optimum levels. Compost maturity is rapid with these devices, and they’re super easy to use, though they will cost a little more than some of the other urban composting options here.
Tips for urban composting
Donate your scraps
If you’re a well-intentioned urbanite looking for a way to compost your organics but have no room or interest in doing it yourself, consider that many farmers markets and natural food stores will take your organic material donations and compost them for you! Simply collect a week’s worth of waste in a bucket and deliver it to your local farmers market every weekend. They may even give you a bucket of mature compost in exchange!
Scrap pails and bags
Whether you use a backyard compost bin or have a kitchen composter under your sink, you’ll likely want a holding container in the form or a bag or pail in which to collect your food scraps until they’re ready to be composted. While we recommend burying your food waste (for outdoor bins) or freezing it (for indoor bins and vermicompost bins) as soon as it is generated, if you choose a pail that has a tight-fitting lid, you may not run into any problems with fruit flies and other pests.
- Crate and Barrel compost pails - These attractive options will fit nicely with your kitchen decor and will keep your food scraps contained while preventing odors.
- Kitchen compost crocks - Made of glazed ceramic, these kitchen compost pails are cute and functional, with activated carbon filters.
Using your urban compost
Perhaps you have wonderfully good intentions to compost your organic waste, but you’re by no means a gardening aficionado. If that’s the case, then what do you do with your finished compost? Never fear, there are plenty of ways use your compost to benefit the planet:
- Become a rebel gardener by sprinkling your compost on urban trees, shrubs, and garden patches.
- Give your compost to your family member or best friend to use in their garden.
- Use your compost on houseplants.
- Donate your compost to a local community garden or nonprofit organization.
- Find out if neighboring organic farmers will accept compost donations—they may just have collection sites at farmers markets.