Sustainable Home

5 Ways to Start Composting In Your Flat Today

Nowadays, people are becoming more environmentally conscious and making an effort to incorporate eco-friendly practices into their daily lives. And we couldn’t be happier to see it!

One such practice that has skyrocketed in popularity is composting. Not only is it a fantastic way to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste, but it also has positive effects on the environment and is praised by gardeners everywhere. When it comes to composting in a flat, though, things seem to get a little more complicated.

If you don’t have the luxury of living in a house with a garden, you might be wondering how to start composting in an apartment and if you can do it at all. Well, you’re in luck! Composting indoors is really not that difficult, and we’re here to help you get started.

So, if you:

  • Are trying to be more environmentally conscious;
  • Are a plant parent whose babies could use a nutrient boost;
  • Want to start composting in your apartment but don’t know how,

Then keep on reading! This post will answer your questions.

Why you should be composting in the first place

If you’ve heard lots of people talk about composting, you might be wondering why that is. The way it’s praised, you’d think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread!

And you wouldn’t be wrong.

There are two main aspects of home composting that make it an important practice:

  • Its environmental impact;
  • Its gardening benefits.

Let’s dive deeper.

Environmental impact

Food waste and organic matter take up a massive chunk of landfills. And, if you don’t know how decomposition works, you probably wouldn’t find this troubling. After all, rubbish is meant to go in the rubbish tip, right?

Technically, yes. However, thanks to the lack of aeration in landfills, organic matter doesn’t break down the way it should. This process, called anaerobic decomposition, causes this food waste to release methane.

Looking at things in the short term, methane is a lot more powerful than carbon dioxide, which is the greenhouse gas everyone is the most worried about. By focusing on CO2 and forgetting about our organic waste, we’re actually letting methane speed up climate change drastically.

This is why composting is important if you want to make your household more eco-friendly. Composting food waste doesn’t release methane into the atmosphere. Instead, it produces the “black gold” that many, many gardening aficionados swear by.

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Which brings us to our next point.

Gardening benefits

When turned into compost, your old food scraps become a fantastic organic fertiliser packed with nutrients. It can significantly boost the soil’s fertility, improve its structure, or even control the pH levels! Use it as a mulch or mix it in to prepare the soil for planting – you’ll be thrilled with the results.

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If you want to use more sustainable gardening practices, then composting should be a no-brainer. Not only will you reduce your food waste significantly, but your plants will also thank you for it.

Composting in a flat – 5 simple methods

So, you’re convinced that composting indoors is the answer. But, naturally, you still have your concerns. And we’re sure we can guess what the biggest one is.

“Isn’t compost going to smell horrible?”

Not really, but we understand why you’d think that. Many people assume that since their food scraps stink when thrown in their regular rubbish bin, they must smell when composting. Here’s why that’s not true.

Remember what we said earlier about how organic matter doesn’t decompose properly in rubbish tips? Well, then you should already have your answer. Your rubbish most likely smells bad because you’ve mixed organic and inorganic waste, with the latter preventing the former from breaking down as it should.

When made correctly, compost smells like… nothing, really. Maybe you could call the smell earthy, or perhaps you won’t notice it at all. There are methods for composting indoors that eliminate odours altogether, so you have nothing to worry about! Still, which solution is right for you will largely depend on your situation.

Now, let’s take a look at the different methods and learn how to compost in a flat.

Worm composters

Image source: Shutterstock / Novakovav

Worm bins, or vermicomposters, are arguably the most popular indoor composting method, and with good reason. It’s effective, fairly quick, and doesn’t take up much space. Some would even say it’s the best solution for composting in an apartment!

But what is it exactly?

Vermicomposting is basically composting with worms indoors. You add specific worms (often red wigglers) to a bin, along with some soil, and then you just add your food scraps. The little creatures will eat and process the organic waste, turning it into compost and worm tea, which plants just so happen to love.

You can either opt for a store-bought worm bin, or choose to make your own – it will work just as well either way. And you can easily find the worms themselves (online or at a bait shop, for example).

If you don’t fancy spending time turning a pile of soil and decomposing food, then vermicomposting might just be for you! The worms take care of this task for you, making it a relatively low-maintenance composting method.

While composting with worms indoors is a great solution, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you make a choice.

  • Pay attention to the weather.
    For your worms to thrive, you’ll need temperatures between 4°C and 25°C. This means that the safest option is to keep the vermicomposter inside. Of course, if the weather allows it, you can bring them out onto the balcony. Just make sure you take them back in when the temperatures drop or get too high, as the little creatures won’t survive otherwise. Direct sun and rain are also things to watch out for.
  • Don’t overfeed the worms.
    If you keep adding more food waste before the worms can digest it, you won’t really get the results you want. Add fewer scraps at a time and keep the rest in the freezer until it’s time to throw them in the worm bin. We recommend using a multi-tiered worm bin, as it will make it easier for you to collect the finished compost and, at the same time, you won’t worry as much about overfeeding the little critters.
  • There are some materials you can’t add.
    Worms will eat most of your food scraps, but there are some that they don’t like. Meat, dairy products, and citrus peels are among them. Know what you can and can’t feed your worms and find another solution for the leftover scraps.
  • You need to balance the organic waste.
    For happy worms and good compost, you’ll want a good ratio of nitrogen-rich waste and carbon-rich waste. Your regular kitchen scraps will be high in nitrogen, so you need to add some brown waste to keep things balanced. This includes shredded newspaper and leaves, for example.
  • You’ll have a limited amount of compost.
    Since vermicomposting is a great way to compost in a flat, the worm bins are often smaller in size. This means they’re best for small batches of compost, which is just fine for your houseplants. But if you need a larger amount of compost, you might need another solution.

We understand that not everyone will be thrilled with the idea of keeping a bin of worms in their home.

The chances of finding that a gang of them have overtaken your kitchen are practically nonexistent. But still, if you want to learn how to compost in an apartment without worms, take a look at the following options.

Electric composters

Electric countertop digesters just keep getting better and better with time. Plus, they’re becoming a very popular solution for composting in a flat without worrying about worms or smells.

These appliances are perfect for small apartments with little to no outdoor or balcony space. They’re very compact in size and can turn your food scraps into a dry fertiliser overnight! The way they work means no odours will escape, too. While an electric composter doesn’t technically compost your organic waste but imitates the process instead, your plants will find the end result just as good.

One of the best parts about electric composters is that they don’t discriminate – you can add animal products like bones, meat, and dairy, too! That’s a huge bonus, given that most traditional composting methods exclude these products.

However, something to note is that they do need electricity to work, meaning they’re not as environmentally friendly as other methods. They can also be quite pricey, so it’s up to you to decide if the investment is worth it.

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So, to recap so far – worm bins and electric composters are two fantastic ways to compost in an apartment and, most importantly, keep that compost to use on your own houseplants.

However, depending on your situation, you might not find these methods practical. Or maybe you just don’t have any houseplants to feed. If you don’t actually need the compost, there’s no point in keeping bags of it around.

You might want to learn how to compost in an apartment simply because you want to live in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. If that’s the case, then perhaps you’ll find the answer in the solutions below.

Community gardens

If there’s a community garden in your area, consider joining or simply donating your food scraps. Most community gardens have compost piles, and folks that use them will surely be grateful if you help them out.

If you have the time and, of course, desire, you can join the allotment garden and help out. It’s a great way to be active in the community, and you’ll get some tasty veggies out of it, too.

Farmers’ markets

It’s safe to assume that most farmers have a compost plot. Sometimes, they’ll even take people’s unwanted food scraps to add to their piles. So, ask around next time you visit your local farmers’ market.

Check online

If you don’t have a community garden or a farmer’s market nearby, that’s ok. Of course, the first thing you can do is ask your friends and family if they need any compostable food scraps.

Another option is to simply go online! Many people will happily take your food waste off your hands to use for their own gardens or houseplants.

If you’re not sure where to start, there are many forums or groups on social media where you can offer your unwanted food scraps. One fantastic initiative you can check out is the ShareWaste app – simply find your area and check if anyone is looking for organic waste to add to their compost bin!

Honourable mentions

To finish up, we’ll talk about two methods of composting in a flat that seem to come highly recommended (by some). The reason they didn’t make it on our list of recommendations is simple – more often than not, they’re impractical.

Of course, you can decide for yourself if you want to give something a go, so we’ll go over them briefly.

Bokashi bins

Image source: Shutterstock / MyBears

If you’ve done any research on composting indoors, you’ve probably come across Bokashi bins. They seem to be gaining popularity recently, and honestly, we can see why.

If you’re using a Bokashi bin, you can chuck in pretty much anything – veggies, eggshells, meat, dairy products, bones, any food scraps you have! They’re supposed to emit no nasty smells, too. So, it’s no wonder why people are considering them more and more lately. They get so much praise that it might seem too good to be true, especially if you live in a small apartment.

And that’s because it is.

Bokashi bins have several issues when it comes to composting in a flat. By far the most frustrating one is that they don’t actually compost your food scraps.

This bin is meant to ferment organic waste that is difficult to work with, turning it into pre-compost. This material can then be added to an actual composter – like a worm bin – to finish it off. Plus, you need a place to bury the matter that comes after the fermentation process is complete. And, if you live in an apartment, you probably won’t.

The need for two separate systems makes Bokashi bins highly impractical if you live in a small flat. You’re trying to save space, after all, so it just defeats the purpose.

Another thing to note is that you’ll want to invest in a high-quality bin with a good seal. Otherwise, you might have to deal with the nasty smells you’re likely worried about. Coming home to a kitchen that stinks of fermented vegetables is not a pleasant experience for anyone.

That’s not to say that Bokashi bins are a lousy method of composting indoors. Most of the time, it’s just not practical unless you have an outdoor compost bin or a garden.

Compost tumblers

Image source: Shutterstock / Noel V. Baebler

Tumblers are another solution that we’re surprised to see in guides on composting indoors as often as we do. And there’s one main reason for this – they’re usually huge.

Unless you have a giant balcony (or access to a communal area and permission to place it there), compost tumblers are not something we’d recommend if you want to compost in your apartment.

Tumblers do have quite a few undeniable benefits.

  • Their size allows for larger amounts of compost to be processed.
  • They are tightly sealed, meaning the organic waste breaks down faster.
  • Pests have no chance of sneaking inside the tumbler.
  • The seal means there are no foul odours.

There are some specifics you need to keep in mind, though.

Eventually, you’ll need to stop throwing scraps in until the previous materials break down completely. This means having to store your food waste for that time. Some models have solved this issue, having two separate compartments.

Overfilling can also be a problem, as you might find it hard to rotate the tumbler when full, especially if it’s on the larger side.

Now, if you happen to find a tiny compost tumbler to put on your balcony (with enough space left to turn it), then by all means, give it a shot. But before you make a choice, consider all the aspects.

And there you have it! Hopefully, you can find a solution that’s right for you and start composting in your apartment. Both your plants and the environment will thank you for it!

After all, we’re all encouraged to do our bit to help Nature, right? And more and more ordinary folks and businesses are turning to sustainable practices every day. So, why not join them?

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Takeaways

  • Composting your food waste is a great way to help the environment and keep your plants happy.
  • Composting in a flat is not difficult; you just have to pick the right method.
  • Worm bins are one of the best methods for composting indoors, as they’re compact and effective.
  • You can find electric composters, about the size of a bread-maker, that process your food scraps overnight and emit no smells whatsoever.
  • If you don’t need to keep compost for yourself, you can take your food waste to a community garden or ask around your local farmers’ market.
  • You can go online and find people in your area that might be interested in your food scraps for their own compost pile.
  • Bokashi bins and compost tumblers are not the most practical solutions for composting in an apartment.

If you’re looking for more tips on sustainable and eco-friendly living, we recommend heading over to our post on how to recycle at home next!

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We hope you found our indoor composting guide helpful. If you have any questions, or maybe a tip or two of your own, let us know down in the comments!

Image source: Shutterstock / Daisy Daisy

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