Yes, composting is awesome, and everyone says we should do it. What almost no one talks about is the fact that compost stinks (literally), making it an unwelcome addition to the close quarters of most apartment and/or city dwellers. Not willing to be “that guy” in the building with the buckets of rotting food on the porch, we resign ourselves to trashing our organic waste.
But wait! A big pile of leaves, eggshells and decomposing food isn’t the only way to compost. That kind of composting is best suited for the outdoors, preferably far from the domicile so you don’t have to smell it aging in the breeze. In fact, there are lots of handy little containers and gadgets specifically designed for those living in a small, urban environment. Here are three of our favorites:
Countertop Compost Pail
This is as simple as it gets. A compost bin that can sit on (or under) your counter until the contents can be transferred to an outdoor pile or composter. PRO: it has a snap-lock lid and easy-to-replace carbon filters to eliminate food odors. CON: The actual composting has to happen somewhere else. But if you have a friend with an active compost pile, or a municipal compost collection service, this is the perfect temporary storage bin. Lots of varieties available online for about $20.
The first non-electric system designed to be used indoors, this composter ferments and pickles your food waste in less than half the time of conventional composting methods without nasty odors thanks to anaerobic digestion. The SCD Probiotics’ composter (pictured above) includes All Seasons Bokashi, a naturally fermented bran that is essential for successful for composting. The system uses beneficial microbes in the bokashi to ferment organic waste (even cheese and meat!) as it accumulates in the composting bucket. PRO: The bucket fits easily under most kitchen sinks, so it is convenient to access – right when you need it. The lid seals in odors and keeps pests out. A built in spigot allows you to drain off the nutrient rich leachate. CON: You have to maintain it and it requires a constant supply of bokashi. Available online from about $40.
The Nature Mill automatic composter (above) is the urban composter’s pièce de résistance. If you want something that will crank out the compost with minimal effort (and stink) this is the indoor composter for you. Add food at any time into the upper chamber. Heat, mixing, and oxygen help the natural cultures break down the food within days – before odors develop. Push a button to transfer to the tray below. It will continue to compost there for another week, while you fill the upper chamber again. Remove the tray at your convenience. PRO: It does all the work for you. CON: It sucks up electricity (about as much as an incandescent light bulb) and makes some noise when running. Some reviewers also mention that there is a slight odor when the bin is opened–not a rotting smell, but a decidedly earthy one. Available form $249
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