Your Full Guide to Apartment Composting
When you live in an apartment, you can’t start your own compost pile in your backyard. Because, well, you don’t have a backyard. Maybe you like it that way—no yardwork—or maybe it’s because an apartment is all you can afford right now. Regardless, you’re wondering to yourself, is composting while living in an apartment possible? And is it a hassle?
From someone who composts in an apartment, I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely possible. Not only that, but apartment composting barely takes any effort.
Ready to see how?
Let’s dive in.
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If I Can’t Have a Compost Pile, Where do I Put My Compost?
Before I started composting, my biggest question was, “What do I do with my compost?” I don’t think my apartment building’s manager would appreciate me starting up a pile in the middle of the picnic area. For a while, I thought composting would be too much of a hassle. Yet here I am now, and let me tell you—composting adds zero inconvenience to my life.
There are tons of places and people who would love to get their hands on your compost. To find places near you, check out the website Share Waste. They have an interactive map that lists places all over the world that accept compost. If you’re in the US, check out Litterless’ list of places that accept compost. See? This just got so much easier.
If neither of those sites have a place that you can drop your compost off at, don’t worry! There are still plenty of other options, like:
Friends or family who compost
Local farmers (find them at farmers markets)
If all else fails, you might be able to pay for a service that will pick up your compost. But before resorting to that, hop onto Google and search “places that accept compost near me.” Do a little digging. You never know what you’ll find.
Won’t My Compost Attract Flies and Unwanted Pests?
Not if you’re careful about it. My indoor compost bin comes with a lovely air filter that traps bad smells. That means fruit flies can’t find my compost. Yay!
We’ll also get into a few other methods for storing your compost below. All are pest-free! Stick around, and we’ll get you set up for apartment composting in no time.
Where in My Apartment Should I Store My Compost?
Honestly, that depends on how you want to compost. There are a few options. I’m gonna go over the easiest apartment composting methods below (the first is my favorite). While going over them, keep in mind what’s best for you, along with the knowledge that you can probably find a place to drop off your compost at.
Here are some easy ways to store compost in your apartment:
In a countertop compost bin
In a worm bin
In an outdoor bin (if you have a balcony)
In your freezer
Using a Countertop Compost Bin in an Apartment
This is my go-to method, and it’s probably the easiest + cheapest way to compost in an apartment. It’s pretty simple: you have a bin/bucket that you stick your compostable food scraps into. Once it’s full, you take it to a place that accepts compost (plenty of options listed above).
Personally, I use this countertop composting bin from Utopia Kitchen. It’s stainless steel (which means no rusting), has a great handle for carrying, and comes with charcoal air filters. That way, air can still get to my food scraps through the holes in the lid, but the smells get trapped in the filter.
Once the compost bin fills up (about once a week if my husband and I are going through lots of fruits and veggies), I take it over to my in-laws’ house and add it to their compost pile. Since this bucket has a nice handle, it’s easy to transport. Plus, the lid with the air filter fits on snugly, so I’m not worried about it spilling or smelling in my car.
What You Need to Know:
It’s 1.3 gallons
Fills up in about a week
Comes with 2 charcoal filters
Usually goes for around 20 bucks
Lid fits on tightly
Pro Tip: Other than soaking the filter in warm, soapy water, the care instructions are pretty lame. Cleaning the bin itself isn’t a problem. But be careful with the filter. Rinse it out well, and DON’T SQUEEZE IT. Just let it air dry, preferably in sunlight. If you squeeze it, you’ll ruin it, and it won’t work as well. That means fruit flies galore. You’ll want to replace your charcoal air filter every month or two.
The bin above is my favorite, or you can look at these other options on Amazon:
Apartment Composting with a Worm Bin
Honestly, I’ve never done this. It takes more effort than a countertop composting bin, and if you can find a place to drop your compost off at, what’s the point? Still, if worm composting fits your composting goals better, then go you! To each his own.
If you want to get into composting with a worm bin, check out this guide. After reading it, if it looks like something you’d like to get into, I’d recommend doing more research. This book on worm bin composting has a lot of good reviews, and it’s also not too expensive.
Take a look at some of Amazon’s top worm composting bins below:
Composting with an Outdoor Bin
These bins are big, and they’re meant to be outdoors. If your apartment has a patio or a balcony, you could use one of these for longer-term composting. It definitely makes it easy to turn! It’ll also keep composting in the winter simpler, as it’s easier to insulate a bin than a pile.
If you’d like to compost on your apartment’s balcony, check out Amazon’s top outdoor composters:
Apartment Composting in Your Freezer
If you have a lack of counter space or you just don’t want to risk attracting fruit flies, consider keeping your food scraps in the freezer. This cute little bin is great for collecting and storing scraps in your freezer. Pair it with an outdoor composting bin and some compost starter if you want, and you have a composting system that doesn’t require you to head out to your bin every time you’re in the kitchen.
There are still more ways to compost in an apartment, although I’d say these are the easiest. You can check out more ideas here.
A Couple Things to Keep in Mind:
Not all food waste is compostable. It’s worth doing a quick internet search to double-check just to make sure. For further reading, check out this post on 50 things you can compost.
Your compost will need air, even in the beginning stages of breaking down. Food in landfills doesn’t break down, and one of the main reasons why is because of a lack of air. So when you’re looking into composting bins, make sure your scraps have access to air.
Ratios matter when it comes to composting. I’m no expert on this, nor do I want to bore you with details on composting foods you don’t eat. But I’d do some research on what you’re composting to see what percentage that food type should take up. Further reading on green to brown ratio here, and carbon to nitrogen ratio here.
Happy composting, fellow apartment dwellers!
Looking for more ways to live a sustainable life? Check out these eco-friendly household items for a low-waste home.