1. Limit Waste: I live in a building with eight different units. We fill six large garbage cans a week. If each resident began composting in a common area we could eliminate the need for an entire garbage can, reducing our waste removal costs by $80 a year. I know, it's not much but it's something.
2. Create Natural Fertilizer: Houseplants are not always the easiest to manage and often end up dying. Nice, greenhouse plants can cost from $12-$100 and more depending on the size of the plant. Many people wish to avoid adding costly chemicals to their indoor plants. Composting creates a 'tea' (the drippings from compost) that can be used to naturally fertilize houseplants.
Challenges and Solutions for Urban Composting
1. Space: Most apartment dwellers don't have the space to plop a composter out the back door.
Solution: Many companies have identified the needs of urban composters and have begun manufacturing smaller composting bins. Many companies offer composting bins as small as 35 gallons which take up as much space as a bicycle.
2. Smell: No one wants offensive odor in their kitchen or common space.
Solution: When collecting compost in the kitchen there are specific bins that have filters built in them. These are the same carbon filters used to clean the water in popular in home water filters. These are typically called compost pails and come in a variety of materials and styles. These pails are meant to be stored on the counter-top or under the sink. Compost pails can be found made of porcelain, plastic and metal.
It is also important to note that most outdoor compost bins are securely fastened in an effort to limit aroma. There will be places on your outdoor bin that will allow the 'tea' to drain out but those are smaller openings that will typically not result in much odor.
3. Use: What do I do with the compost I can't use?
Solution: Many people would be surprised at how simple it is to give away compost. A simple ad on craigslist or mentioning it to a neighbor is typically all it takes for someone to pick up your compost to use in their garden.
4. I don't know what to compost.
Solution: It's easiest to identify a few items that are compostable and begin reserving them in your compost pail. Here is a short list of things that can be composted: old leaves and yard waste, vegetable and fruit remnants, tissues, dryer lint. Those few things should be enough to provide you with beginning material to get your urban composting up and running.
Composting is not always easy but there are things that make urban composting feasible and fun.