We usually imagine compost as a pile of decomposing plants in the corner of a garden. Something only big farms have, and gardeners use to fertilize the soil. But there are many more reasons for composting, apart from its use in gardens.
Composting is a process when useless plant matter decomposes and nutrients become available for new plants once compost becomes part of the soil. It is also a process when organic matter diminishes in volume. It is an important process that is part of the life cycle of a plant. It happens naturally if plants grow and die undisturbed, and in a bit more organized fashion if people get involved.
But composting does have a place in city homes as well. Thanks to a lot of people becoming more conscious about the environment, there are countless options for city composting on the market.
If done correctly, compost does not smell and can be kept in an apartment, reducing your kitchen waste to a minimum and allowing the nutrients from kitchen scraps to become available.
Before we discuss different options for composting at home, let's have a look at what happens with biodegradable waste if it‘s not separated and turned into compost.
You take your garbage out, putting a plastic bag of kitchen scraps into the trash can. The garbage gets transported to a landfill where it will sit in the plastic bag, buried under layers and layers of other trash without access to oxygen. It will eventually start rotting. This is called anaerobic decomposition and produces large amounts of methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Another issue with not separating compostable material is that nutrients from the biodegradable matter will be lost or contaminated by other trash or by-products of the decomposition. In other words, we are losing valuable resources, which might never get back to natural cycle or be lost for hundreds of years. On top of this, the volume of garbage we produce is quickly filling all the available space in landfills and forces us to build new sites for garbage disposal.
There might be many ways in which your city deals with the waste but none of them is as effective and eco-friendly as composting.
Main kinds of composting available:
-classic open air compost pile ( usually in the garden)
-bokashi composting (can be used indoors)
-vermicompost ( can be used indoors)
-commercial composting ( if green bins and organic waste separation is available in your area)
Since most of us live in the city, where even a small balcony is a privilege, compost pile is not really an option, therefore it might be time to explore some alternative ways of turning your kitchen scraps into valuable fertilizer, or at least reducing their volume.
This type of composting can be also kept inside, since the bin you are using is airtight and therefore any smells stay contained. This process uses microorganisms to quickly ferment and dcompose kitchen leftovers. You will have to buy the bokashi powder, which is a natural product based on bran inoculated with EM – effective microbes.
This type of composting uses living organisms to help us process the plant matter into useful product. The main principle of vermicomposting is that you have a bin, where you prepare a cozy home for worms and feed them your kitchen scraps. They are quite independent and grateful creatures. They will live quietly in the bin and munch on your carrot peels and discarded newspaper.
If done correctly vermicompost is a self sustained ecosystem. One time investment which will happly co-exist with you for years.
There are many designs of vermicomposters so you’ll easily find one that fits your style and blends in wih the kitchen.
If you are lucky enough that your city offers separation of biodegradable waste, you can dispose of all your kitchen scraps in a separate green bin, provided by the city council. This requires no extra equipement and is relatively easy to do, but lacks the joy of seeing the final product of composting.
What to do with compost?
If you don’t have your own garden, you might use it for your house plants, or share with the neighbors. You would be surprised how many people will jump with joy if you offer to share your compost with them, and who knows, you might get some homegrown tomatoes as a thank you, and that is always a win.
Eventually, even if you decided to simply throw the compost away, it is already reduced in volume and decomposed so it will not cause as much harm in the landfil.
Think about it and explore the option which would work for you and your household. There is a compost pile for everyone!