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When you think of composting, you might picture stinky piles that take up a ton of room. If you're an apartment-dweller, you may be wondering if you can compost without a yard. Fortunately, there are tons of ways to compost that won't make your apartment smelly or take up a lot of room. We'll walk you through several methods—you're sure to find one that will work for your place!

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Set up a countertop compost bin.

  1. Use the small bin to store your food scraps until you can compost them. Before you even decide what to do with all your food scraps, you've got to store them somewhere in your kitchen. Shop for a small bin that you can set on the counter or under a sink. Many models include biodegradable bags to make cleanup easy, or charcoal filters to minimize the smell.[1]
    • Keep in mind that you're not actually creating compost in a countertop bin. The bin is just a handy place to keep scraps while they're in your kitchen. Then, you can transfer them to a small tumbler on your balcony or donate them to a community garden.
    • If you don't want to buy a countertop bin, use an old ice cream bucket that has a lid you can snap shut.
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Use a large bucket composting system.

  1. Create a compost pile on a smaller scale using a 5 US gal (19 L) bucket. Place the bucket in a kitchen closet or on a small patio so it's out of the way. Then, gradually fill your bucket with food scraps and dry brown materials like shredded paper or cardboard.[2] You will need to water the compost whenever it looks dry, but bucket composting is a simple system that doesn't take much space.[3]

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Try the Bokashki method of composting.

  1. Go with this system if you want a faster way to break down the compost. The Bokashi method works just like the large bucket system, except that you'll also layer a grain product called Bokashi bran with the food scraps. Shop for Bokashi bran at your local hardware store or find it online. This bran has formulated yeasts and bacteria that help break down the waste faster. It also makes a really nutritionally-dense compost.[5]
    • If you love to garden on your balcony or patio, the Bokashi method makes excellent compost!
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Set up a worm bin.

  1. Vermicompost is a great method if you want to quickly create compost.[6] Place 1 pound (450 g) of red wiggler worms in a big storage container and provide moist shredded cardboard. Then, toss your food scraps into the tote. The worms feed on the scraps and produce castings or poop that you can add to the soil for container plants. It's a fantastic method for apartment-dwellers![7]
    • Shop for red wigglers online or ask a friend who has a worm bin already set up. Just ensure that you don't get an invasive worm species like the Asian Jumping worm, Alabama Jumper worm, or George Jumper worm.[8]
    • Plan on feeding the worms about 1 pint of waste at a time. Once the worms break that down, you can feed them again.
    • Worm compost bins usually resemble plastic trays. You can keep them in either an indoor or outdoor space.[9]

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Try an electric countertop food digester.

  1. Process your food scraps to reduce the amount you donate or waste. Although this method doesn't make compost, it reduces food waste volume by 90%. Put food scraps into your electric digester. It heats, chops, and dries the scraps, so you're left with a powdery substance. You can sprinkle this on soil if you've got a balcony, or you can put it in the trash.[10]
    • This is a good option for people who don't want to produce compost, but who are looking to cut back on food waste that ends up in the landfill.
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Place a compost tumbler on your balcony or patio.

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Use a municipal composting service.

  1. Your apartment's waste company might collect food scraps for composting. Some cities are attempting to make it easier for residents to compost, especially if they don't have access to space. Talk with your landlord or call the waste company and ask if they accept food scraps for compost. If they do, you'll probably need to put the material in a sealable bag and place it in a specific bin for compost pickup.[14]
    • If your city or apartment building doesn't offer this service, urge them to adopt it! Ask friends and fellow apartment-dwellers to email or call, so it's easier get everyone involved in composting.
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Pay for private composting service.

  1. Check out monthly subscriptions to have a company pick up your compost. If you don't have composting options through your city, don't stress! Research private companies that offer residential service pick up. Usually, you'll pay a small fee and the company gives a container to put your compost in.[15] Depending on how often you schedule pick up, they'll pick up your compost every week or two.
    • Talk with your neighbors or friends who also live in your apartment and ask if anyone has a composting service. They may have offers for you or all of you might be able to share a subscription.

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  • Question
    How do I get rid of the smell in my compost?
    Artemisia Nursery
    Artemisia Nursery
    Plant Nursery & Garden Shop
    Artemisia Nursery is a retail plant nursery in Northeast Los Angeles specializing in California native plants. Artemisia Nursery is a worker-owned small business with plans to become a worker-owned cooperative. In addition to California native plants, Artemisia Nursery offers a selection of succulents, heirloom veggie and herb starts, house plants, pottery, and gardening tools and supplies. Drawing on the knowledge of the founders, Artemisia Nursery also offers consultations, designs, and installations.
    Artemisia Nursery
    Plant Nursery & Garden Shop
    Expert Answer
    Make sure it gets plenty of airflow! Compost systems without good aeration lead to anaerobic decomposition, which is very, very stinky. Compost systems with good aeration use aerobic decomposition, which smells a lot better.
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      References

      1. https://www.thekitchn.com/best-compost-bins-23019461
      2. Artemisia Nursery. Plant Nursery & Garden Shop. Expert Interview. 7 August 2020.
      3. https://extension.uga.edu/content/dam/extension-county-offices/bartow-county/mgev/trainees/Composting.pdf
      4. Artemisia Nursery. Plant Nursery & Garden Shop. Expert Interview. 7 August 2020.
      5. https://www.natureswayresources.com/nl/176IndoorComposting.pdf
      6. Artemisia Nursery. Plant Nursery & Garden Shop. Expert Interview. 7 August 2020.
      7. Kathryn Kellogg. Sustainability Specialist. Expert Interview. 28 June 2019.
      8. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/how-create-and-maintain-indoor-worm-composting-bin
      9. Artemisia Nursery. Plant Nursery & Garden Shop. Expert Interview. 7 August 2020.

      About This Article

      Artemisia Nursery
      Co-authored by:
      Plant Nursery & Garden Shop
      This article was co-authored by Artemisia Nursery and by wikiHow staff writer, Jessica Gibson. Artemisia Nursery is a retail plant nursery in Northeast Los Angeles specializing in California native plants. Artemisia Nursery is a worker-owned small business with plans to become a worker-owned cooperative. In addition to California native plants, Artemisia Nursery offers a selection of succulents, heirloom veggie and herb starts, house plants, pottery, and gardening tools and supplies. Drawing on the knowledge of the founders, Artemisia Nursery also offers consultations, designs, and installations. This article has been viewed 9,269 times.
      2 votes - 100%
      Co-authors: 4
      Updated: June 20, 2022
      Views: 9,269
      Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 9,269 times.

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