How to compost when you live in an apartment

November 3, 2015

When you live in an apartment and don't have a large yard, composting can seem an impossible chore. Well, fear not, because there are options available that work well for those living in limited spaces.

Two options for composting while living in an apartment are vermicomposting and community composting. Vermicomposting allows you to compost in a small space, while community composting is a collective method for turning biodegradable food waste into compost.

How to compost when you live in an apartment


When you're trying to compost while living in a small amount of space, you're limited in how much compost you can create at one time. This is why the speed at which the compost is produced is so important.

Also, less space often means that manually turning the compost can be an impractical mess. An ideal solution to this problem is vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting is a more rapid form of composting that uses worms as composting superheroes. This way, the bacteria that normally break down compostable waste aren't doing the job alone.

Plus, worms are master soil creators. They dislike having the soil disrupted and will move throughout it to aerate it themselves. Thus, the mess of turning compost is completely avoided.

In addition, a well balanced vermicompost should smell earthy, like soil. So there's little risk of neighbours complaining about the smell of rotten food, which can happen if you're trying to regularly compost waste in your apartment.

Community composting

Community composting can take on a few forms.

Some cities offer programs wherein you can save up your compostable materials, and at the end of the week take them out with the trash to the compost bin.

The city will then pick up your green bin, compost its contents with the compost from other households in a gigantic batch, and sell the quality compost back to residents for a reduced price.

Composting programs in Canadian cities

Several prominent cities in Canada offer composting programs.

The city of Vancouver, BC, has a long history with composting and currently offers its residents the Green Bin Plan; if you live in this city, simply deposit your compost in the green bin each week.

Calgary composts leaves and pumpkins each fall so they don't end up in the landfill.

Edmonton collects biodegradable organic waste as well as sewer sludge from residential areas and converts it into compost.

Apartment dwellers looking for a community compost program should see what options are offered in their area.

Pooling neighbourhood resources

However, as you might've noticed, any sort of municipal or city compost program involves you giving a free resource to the city, only to have them sell it back to you. But this system works well if you have very little space available for composting and no inclination to vermicompost.

However, several houses can pool their resources and designate an area or giant bin for a neighbourhood compost. This works well in cities with neighbourhoods that have community gardens.

With worms or community, composting's a great choice

Whether you choose to vermicompost, or use a community compost program on the city or neighbourhood level, composting even when you're living in the limited space of an apartment is a great way to go green.

When you compost, you reduce the amount of garbage you'd otherwise put on the curb, and you help to create a natural gardening aid.

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