How to Compost If You Don't Have a Yard
No space? No problem. You can still practice this eco-friendly food disposal method at home.
Helping the environment starts at home, especially when it comes to tossing out everyday waste. One particularly eco-friendly habit to adopt is composting, and this is something you can do even if you don't have a yard. Just ask Stephanie Koeser, the marketing and sales director and soil specialist at Florida Organic Solutions. Compost captures "waste streams," she says, which include food, paper, green, animal, and even human waste. And while it's most common to compost in a backyard, you can actually practice this right inside your home. Ahead, discover easy expert tips to start composting indoors, no backyard space necessary.
One of the easiest ways to compost without relying on a pile or a large bin outside of your home is by vermicomposting—which involves worms. According to Koeser, red wigglers are the best for the composting process, and the critters' castings make for a nutrient-dense finished product. If this is your first time vermicomposting, she recommends purchasing a factory-made bin to keep the worms in place. "You can easily purchase these [worms] online, such as the Uncle Jim's Worm Farm Red Wiggler Live Composting Worms ($38.95, amazon.com), and have them conveniently delivered to your front door," the soil professional says. "The worms then need a house. You can purchase bins, like the Nature's Footprint Worm Bin Compost System ($82.52, amazon.com), that sit right on your kitchen counter for around $100." And for those looking for a do-it-yourself project, you can easily make a worm bin. Follow along with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s tutorial; you'll need two plastic bins, a drill, screening material, and waterproof glue to get started.
Whether you buy a bin or create one for yourself, Koeser says you should place the final product in a shady area. "Hot bins dry out and [cause] an unfriendly ecosystem for the worms," she says. "In-home bins are designed to compost paper waste and food scraps. The paper waste acts as a bedding and the food scraps become the food source." The rest of the indoor process is the same as it would be outside: Paper acts as the carbon or "brown matter" and food scraps serve as the nitrogen or "green matter." There should be a one-on-one ratio between both, so the compost doesn't end up slimy or smelly, she adds. And don't forget that compost should be damp—but not overly moist—to ensure suitable air flow.
Sign up for a composting service.
It is also worth checking out composting services in your neighborhood, if possible; some organizations offer subscriptions to make the process that much more seamless. "This service will pick up your food waste and take it to an off-site facility to be composted," Koeser notes. "The service then returns a finished composted product for your growing needs. These services are often found within co-ops or farmers markets." When you are getting your materials together, however, keep in mind the types of green and brown matter you are including. "I recommend not composting glossy papers or paper with colored ink. These papers have printing chemicals and dyes that can leach into your finished product, making it unsafe for growing food producing plants," she adds.
Compost with your local community garden.
Speaking of your neighborhood—the gardens in your area could have compost offerings for those who do not have the yard space. "These community gardens offer an onsite compost bin for weeds, green waste, and food scraps," Koeser shares. "The finished compost can then be used to grow annual vegetables, herbs, flowers, and more. Be sure to check in with the president or garden managers before just dumping your waste." And whatever method you choose, whether it be vermicomposting, a service, or composting via a local community garden, the expert notes that the process to break down the green and brown matter takes between three to six months.