Beginners Guide To Composting In Small Spaces

While living in an apartment, composting can seem impossible. It is not like you can start your own compost pile in your backyard. Because ummmmm, you don't have a backyard. I know you are wondering to yourself, is composting while living in an apartment possible? Is it a hassle? 

I am new to composting and I compost in an apartment. I am here to tell you, it is definitely possible. Not only that, apartment composting barely takes any effort. 

Why should we compost? 

We have all seen those photos of landfills with a mountain of garbage. When organic scraps fill our landfills, it is difficult to decompose there. As a result, 16 % of methane emissions are from undecomposed waste in our landfills. 

Ain't Nobody Got Time For No Methane!

Therefore, composting is an excellent way to combat those nasty emissions into our environment. You will not only help your environment out but your garden and plants will love you. You are welcome, thanks in advance. 

What Are The Benefits of Composting? 

Saves on food cost at home.
Ever since I started composting, I am hella aware of my food waste. The average American household wastes $2,200 dollars worth of food every year. Composting gives you a clear idea of what you are throwing out and forces you to be more mindful while grocery shopping. 

Reduce waste in landfills
I said it before and I'll say it again, it's good for the environment. Writing this I am 33 years old (I'll be 34 tomorrow. Woot Woot) by the time I am 52 years old The United States may run out of landfill capacity.  Crazy right? Every small contribution such as apartment composting helps the environment. 

Great for your plants, garden, and more
All of my crazy plant people stand up!!! Applying compost to the soil of your plants, lawns, the garden makes your babies happy. 

It's Fun. 
Who doesn't love a great transformation? Seeing your "trash" slowly transform into black gold, that what we insiders call compost, is ever so satisfying. Truth moment: I just found out about the term black gold 5 minutes ago so am I really an insider? Food for thought. 

How Does Composting Work? 

Composting is simple. This is the basic process: 

You will need to collect your kitchen waste for the day (veggies scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves, tea bags, etc). This is the GREEN stuff- rich in nitrogen and contains more moisture. 

You will also need dry leaves, newspapers shreds, cardboard, twigs, sawdust, etc. This is the BROWN stuff- rich in carbon and contain less moisture. 

What Can I Compost? 


-Vegetables, fruit stalks, and peelings (including corn cobs) 
-Grass cuttings 
-Tea leaves and coffee grounds 
-Paper towels, tissues, and newspaper
-Old spices

Do Not Compost:

-Dairy Products 
-Meat and bones 
-Grease or oils of any kind 
-Diseased plant material
-Disposable diapers 
-Glossy paper

I Want To Compost Now What? 

We now know what to add to our compost bin, let's discuss where to hold your compost. Compost bins, pit composting, open bins, tumblers, piling, or vermicomposting.

For apartment and other small living spaces, like mine, it is the best bet to go for a compost bin. There are many bins you can choose from super fancy bins or DIY composting bins like mine. 

A DIY composting bin is quite simple. This can be a simple setup as a plastic bucket with holes poked in the sides for airflow. If you are going for the basic setup like I did, here's how I did it.

Essential Supplies 

-Two buckets (make sure you have a snug-fitting lid to close your DIY bin)
-A drill
-Green stuff 
-Brown stuff

How To DIY a Compost Bin

1. In one bucket, drill about 10 holes in the bottom of the bucket (the base), about 10 holes in the lid, and 5 to 8 holes around the sides at various heights. These holes are to allow airflow inside and out. 

2. Time to start adding material. Sometimes, the holes at the base of the bucket get clogged by compost material. To prevent this, place twigs and sticks across the bottom of the bucket- they will act as a net to prevent clogging. 

3. Start dumping the green and brown in a 1:3 ratio. The ideal method is to add some browns in first, add greens and then browns again, and so on. Add them in alternating layers, while maintaining ratio. 

4. Cover drilled bucket that contains material with lid and place in the undrilled bucket. 

5. Start dumping the green and brown materials in a 1:3 ratio daily, until the bin gets full. Close the lid and keep it aside. If needed, you can start a new bucket. Just follow the same steps above. Also, remember to keep the cycle going and use the compost you've created in your garden to feed the next generation of fruits, veggies, and flowers. 

2 Composting Tips I Learned The Hard Way 

Keep the bin covered at ALL times.

One HOT summer day, I added my green and brown to my compost bin and got distracted by an episode of Fraser. The next day, I woke up to these weird flies surrounding my bin and a weird mold on the top layer of my compost. I was devastated. Since the humidity in my apartment was HIGH my compost was soggy. I discarded the top layer of my compost and added more brown to combat the sogginess. I created a trap of apple cider vinegar, liquid dish soap, and a mason jar for the flies. This was an experiment and it actually worked. I am not sure if it will every time but I am sure you should not leave your bin open. 

'Turn' the mixture once a week.

August 2020 I visited my family, out of state, for a couple of weeks. I forgot to ask my friend to tend to my compost, not a good idea.  When you turn the mixture weekly your mixture becomes homogeneous and creates sufficient airflow to allow the magic to happen. If your bucket is a cylinder-like mine, you can roll it on the floor for the contents to mix together without you having to open it and mix it with a stick or gloved hand. 

Wouldn't My Compost Attract Flies And Unwanted Pest? I shared above my mistake of leaving the top off my bin and attracting flies. This does not have to happen to you if you are careful and consistent. Keep the lid closed and remember to turn the material. 

With a little patience and minimal weekly work, you can create a kitchen compost bin that will drastically reduce the amount of waste you're sending to the curb each week. Some cities have had success with composting programs that they've reduced the frequency of their trash pickups! Click HERE to find a composting program in your city. 

What if you don't have a garden but want to compost? You can still make that sweet-smelling compost and gift it to your neighbors, friends, local farmer's market, or gardener's store. I don't know about you but I am excited when gifted compost because sharing is caring. 

I hope this post helps takes the stress out of apartment composting. I would love to hear about your composting journey and some great tips. 

Happy Composting Homies!!!!

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