A Simple Guide to Apartment Composting

In some of my recent posts I talked about Why You Should Compost, Backyard Composting: How to Start a Compost Pile, and Types of Compost bins. But a lot of my readers live in urban areas and want to learn more about apartment composting. To make things easy for you, I put together this simple guide on how you can start apartment composting.

Even if you’re not using compost for yourself, composting has many benefits. Urban composting can help reduce cost of soil for the city or local community gardens. This in turn leads to lower landfill waste, lower carbon emissions used for transportation of waste. Although these things may seem minimal, they add up. Composting in an apartment has huge benefits for our environment.

So what do you do if you want to start composting in the city? Here is my simple guide on how to get your urban composting journey started.

1. Find out if your apartment building composts

Does your building already compost and you don’t even know it? Some cities like Seattle require that buildings “provide convenient food and yard waste service and recycling service for their residents.” This program require that cities have food and yard waste bins, making composting in the city super easy.

These food and yard waste binds are typically green and found in your buildings refuse area. If you can’t find a green bin, ask your HOA or landlord if the building has one.

If your building has a food and yard waste container, click here to jump to how to start collecting food scraps.

2. If not, find out if your city offers food & yard waste containers

Other cities may not require food & yard waste containers, but do offer food and yard waste containers. The costs of food & yard waste containers vary on location, but are often minimal. But the benefits are enormous. City composting provides practically free soil for city landscaping, and reduces landfill waste ultimately reducing methane gas emissions.

Find out if your city offers food and yard waste containers for urban composting. Then propose the use of a food and yard waste bin to your HOA. You may find out that some of your neighbors have been eager to compost too!

3. And if that fails, find a communal drop off site such as a community garden or farmers market

Unfortunately, some states and cities do not yet of food and yard waste containers. However, if they don’t there are still other options. Community gardens generally accept food and yard waste scraps. In addition, community garden networks in cities are typically pretty strong, so it’s easy to find a person to contact to find out whether they collect compost or not. Even if they don’t collect compost, they may be able to give you more information on composting in the city.

I have yet to see it in my area, but I’ve ever heard of some Farmers Markets that collect food scraps for urban composting. Contact your local farmers markets to see if they collect compost from customers.

There also might be landscapers, or private compost collection locations in your area. The only barrier to any of these options is that you typically have to purchase a bin or service to actually pick up the compost. But you can easily google services in your area and present this to your HOA.

4. Discover what apartment composting method works best for you

Once you’ve found out if your city composts, or have proposed a compost service to your HOA, it’s time to actually get a compost container!

If you plan on composting to use the end product for yourself, click here for a list of indoor composting methods. These include worm composters, tumblers, countertop composting buckets, and more.

But if you plan on holding on to food scraps to put in your food & yard waste container or to donate your compost to community source, keep reading for some tips.

5. Start Collecting Food Scraps

Once you’ve figured out how you’re going to compost, it’s time to start collecting food scraps, click here to see my complete list of what you can compost.

orange being unpeeled

A general list of apartment-friendly things you can compost include the following (some assuming you will not cook with the remainder):

  • Fruit peels
  • Skins from vegetables (such as zucchini, potato, etc.)
  • Leafy tops of root vegetables
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea leaves or tea bags (if non-synthetic/without staple)
  • Rinsed egg shells
  • Rotten/moldy fruits or vegetables
  • Bruised areas of fruits/vegetables
  • Cores of fruit

You can basically compost anything from a fruit or vegetable. Avoid composting dairy or meat.

If you plan on using a municipal composting bin, you can use the following methods to collect food scraps.

The Freezer Method

This is my current apartment composting method because it’s super simple and easy. I keep a random container (right now it’s a plastic lettuce container) that I throw my food scraps in as I’m cooking. When I’m done, I cover it, put it at the bottom of my freezer, and empty it into my buildings compost bin when it’s full. Some people use glass containers, ziploc bags, tin cans, whatever works for you!

Charcoal Bin Method

If you don’t have a lot of freezer space, or your compost drop-off is not immediately accessible, charcoal bins are a great alternative. They come in varying sizes and can be left on the counter top, next to your garbage bin, or on your balcony.

These bins contain a charcoal piece in them, which absorbs the odor. That means you can add to this bin all month without having to smell rotting food while you’re waiting to find time to get to your compost drop-off bin.

Either of these methods are great for apartment composting. Just chose whichever works best for you!

Have any other tips on apartment composting? I’d love to hear your stories by either commenting below or emailing me at thatcertaintouch@gmail.com.

Looking for Different Types of Compost Bins?

Check out my post that guides you to find the perfect compost bin for you.
Click to read Types of Compost Bins

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Author: Stephanie

As a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, I'm on a mission to help you enjoy eating a balanced diet by cooking with #thatcertaintouch .

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