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Composting for Apartment Dwellers

The EPA estimates that about 22% of the trash that ends up in landfills is food waste, making it the largest single component of our discarded solid waste. Many people think that Food Scraps will simply break down in the landfill, but they do not, at least not in the usual way. Plus, the lack of oxygen causes organic materials to break down very slowly and produce harmful methane gas.

Composting is a great way to reduce the trash you are sending to the landfill. But if you don’t have a single-family house or a yard, you may be wondering how you can do apartment Composting. There are some options.

Composting Without a Yard

First, you need to find someplace to dump your Scraps. And no, dumping them in the park or throwing them onto the side of the road is not a great idea. You need to get permission to put them in an appropriately managed composting pile or facility. Ask around, you may be surprised to find that you have options. Some places that will take food scraps include:

  • Composting Businesses. My city has a business named Rust Belt Riders that will take your food scraps for a small fee at designated drop-off locations. They are also expanding into a pickup service.
  • Community Gardens. Many community gardens have a big compost bin or pile that you may be allowed to use, but be sure to check and get permission.
  • ShareWaste. There’s a really cool website called ShareWaste that allows people with compost bins to connect with people who need a place to drop their food scraps. Check it out!

Or just ask around at garden clubs or local green groups, you may be able to find someone willing to let you use their bin for your scraps.

Keeping Compostables Non-Stinky

You may be wondering, how do I keep a bunch of rotten food scraps from stinking up my house? Well, you’re going to want a nice airtight container that you can keep them in in between dropping them off the compost bin. It should be large enough to accommodate at least a week’s worth of food scraps (unless your drop-off location is really close by). A good tupperware container that seals well is usually fine. Many people store it under their sink or in the refrigerator to keep it from getting too rotten.

What Food Items Can I Compost?

You can compost a lot more than you might think! Stay away from animal products (meat, dairy and eggs), oils and anything that might have chemicals in it. Whoever is hosting your scraps in their bin may also have their own dos and don’ts. For more info on items you may not have realized that you can compost, check out my article Composting Your Way to Zero Waste.

So, are you an apartment composter? How is it working out for you? Any tips? Let us know!

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Composting for Apartment Dwellers


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