How To Start on Your Composting Journey

Living sustainably is difficult: it often feels like you have to change your lifestyle completely to help the environment. One thing that I wanted to try for the longest time was composting, but it seemed impossible: I thought that I’d need a lot of outdoor space, which isn’t doable in an apartment. Once I looked into it, I realized that there are many great options for apartment-style composting. 

What is composting and why should I do it?

Composting is a way to reduce your food waste and create new soil. Some examples of compostable items include fruits, vegetables, bread, eggshells, newspaper, and coffee filters, but these vary based on which method you use. When you send this food waste to landfills, it creates methane gas and contributes to climate change. Composting allows your food scraps to break down more naturally, emitting methane emissions and creating natural fertilizer for plants. Below are some options for composting, from easiest to hardest. 

Curbside Composter:

If you’re lazy like me, Curbside Composter is a great option. Curbside Composter is a company in Madison that provides residents with a bucket to gather food scraps, which they come to pick up every week. They do the composting for you and your food scraps directly benefit a local farm! The downside to Curbside Composter is that it costs $7 per week, but if you want to help your community in an easy way, this is a great option.

Bokashi:

Bokashi means “fermented organic matter” in Japanese. For this method of composting, you’ll add Bokashi bran to your food scraps until you fill a bucket. Then, seal off the bucket and draw off the liquid that forms on top of your mixture every couple of days. After 10-12 days, you’ll have a very acidic form of compost. This method of composting unfortunately creates soil that can’t be given to plants until 2-4 weeks after it’s mixed. Luckily, you can purchase your own Bokashi bucket online, making Bokashi a fairly simple and accessible option!

Worms:

This one sounds gross, but I promise it’s worth it. For this method, you’ll start by lining a clean bin with damp strips of newspaper to create a bedding for your worms. This should fill about three-quarters of your bin and shouldn’t be packed down. For this step, you could also use leaves, straw, or egg cartons. On top of your bedding, add two to four cups of soil. This can be potting soil or just soil from outside. Now, you’ll add your worms. Typically, redworms or red wigglers are used for composting because they’re easy to take care of. Make sure to keep track of how many worms you add so you know how much to feed them! After this, bury your food scraps under bedding in small pieces. Put a piece of dry newspaper over the top and cover your bin, making sure to prop open the lid or to drill holes in the bin so your worms still have access to air. Don’t put the bin in a window or on a heater, and ensure that you’re adding food that is okay for your worms to eat. Citrus, meat, bones, oils, and dairy can all harm your worms. After this, you’ll want to fluff your bedding and feed your worms three times their weight per week. Eventually, you’ll have your own natural fertilizer that you can use with your plants or in a garden! While this method is time-consuming and requires some maintenance, it is the most rewarding. 

Good luck on your composting journey. While some methods are more time-consuming and others are less cost-efficient, you decide what’s best for youーeven if that means not composting at all. You’ve got this!

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