Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Food waste is ravaging our beautiful ecosystem. These days, it’s becoming more and more evident that diverting food waste from landfills is of EXTREME importance for the survival of our planet. But what about the people who don’t have access to an outdoor compost system? This article will explore the top 5 methods for composting in a small space.
Vermicomposting is a fancy way of saying that you use worms to break down your waste for you. A vermicompost is a long, shallow bin made from wood or plastic. The interior is composed of shredded “brown” compost material (such as cardboard, paper or peat moss). The ideal size and number of worms will depend on how much food your household generates. Generally speaking, for every pound of food waste you generate, you will need one square foot of space, and two pounds of worms. FYI: For an easy size-to-waste ratio, keep Mary Appelhof’s 1-2-3 Worm Bin measurement in mind (1 ‘ deep, 2 ‘ wide, 3 ‘ long).
Will vermicomposting work for you?
Bokashi composting is a low-cost, natural process which reduces and transforms food waste by fermenting organic material into a nutrient-dense end-product. Because bokashi requires an anaerobic (no air) environment to succeed, it is more like pickling your food scraps rather than composting them (as composting requires an aerobic environment).
3. Compost Tumblers
When comparing compost tumblers to your garden-variety (pun-intended) compost bin, think of the compost tumbler like a Compost Pile 2.0: the tumbler speeds up the composting process by allowing you to turn the bin manually, therefore completely aerating your food waste. Often larger than vermicomposting bins, compost tumblers may only be an option for those with access to a communal garden space or a fairly roomy balcony.
4. Community Composting
When in doubt - take it outside! Small-space composting doesn’t always equate to indoor composting. Wherever you are, you should be able to find a local outlet that accepts compost. For the sake of simplicity, we are going to list some of the options here so that you can do your own research on whether or not this system of community involvement in the name of composting will work for you.
Sometimes, you'll find that those ole beauties attending farmer's markets already have a compost piles started. Be a dear: ask them if they'll accept your (veggie & egg shell) scraps. Sharing is caring, right?
Community gardens are excellent sources of both fresh produce and local know-how. Most community gardens have existing compost piles to which you can add your food scraps.
Online resources can help you locate nearby community gardens.
Know any farmers? Strike up a relationship! Farmers usually have multiple compost or manure piles around their property and might be willing to take your scraps from you for little to no money!
5. Electric Composters (Food Recyclers)
Technology has an answer for everything, doesn't it? A food recycler, such as theFoodCycleror theZera, uses heat and aeration to break down food waste into a garden-ready supplement that can be used as a fertilizer within hours. If the other four methods of indoor composting don’t appeal to you for whatever reason, maybe it’s time to turn to ready-made compost systems.
Most often folks complain of the labour involved with compost systems, and the risk associated with doing it incorrectly. What if you decide to travel for a week? What if it goes wrong? By heating and aerating your food waste to a high degree, the food recycler speeds up the decomposition process faster than any other composting alternative, and require the least amount of space and oversight. Remember how we called Compost Tumblers "Compost Piles 2.0"? Well, a food recycler is like "Compost Piles 10.0." Is an electric food recycler the answer for you?