How to compost in a city
Composting is a huge way to make a positive impact on the environment. When food items go into a landfill in a plastic bag, they are forced to breakdown anaerobically, meaning without oxygen. And when they break down anaerobically, they release methane gas. To put that in perspective, methane gas is 21x more harmful to the environment than CO2!
This is where composting comes into play. You can take all of your leftover food scraps and turn them into nutrient rich soil to be used for farming, gardening, etc. Some people even compost in their backyard!
Now I live in Philadelphia, not the best environment for starting your own compost. But I didn't want my food scraps to end up in a landfill either so I knew I had to try to find another way to make composting happen. Some cities have composting programs where they will pick up a compost bin for free each week in addition to trash and recycling, some cities even have community compost drop off bins similar to dumpsters. Unfortunately for me Philly did not have either of these solutions.
What I did find out is that there are plenty of composting programs in Philly owned by private businesses who will come by and pick up your composting each week. the downside here is that you have to pay for the service. I went through each and every composting service to see which ones serviced the area I live and would be the cheapest. In the end, I signed up for Bennett Composting. Once per week I leave my compost bin out by my front door and they come by in the middle of the night to empty it and take my scraps away.
In total this costs me $18 per month but to me this is a huge step at being zero-waste and is well worth it. (I do keep on searching for composting in Philly on a regular basis to see if any free alternatives come up.)
How do I manage the compost throughout the week?
Deciding to start composting is the easy part, the logistics can be somewhat tricky when you're talking about keeping all of your old food scraps laying around for a week at a time.
I didn't want a bucket full of food scraps sitting in my kitchen. It will smell and attract fruit flies. Plus, my kitchen is on the smaller side and I just don't have room for a 5 gallon bucket.
Luckily for me I do have a small private backyard area for the bucket. It has a sturdy lid so I'm not worried about bugs getting in and so far it hasn't been an issue. If you have an outdoor balcony area that works too.
Now that I have my bucket stationed outside, I don't want to be going outside and scraping my plate off into a bucket 3-5 times a day. So what I do is keep a tupperware container in my freezer. This allows me to easily discard my food after each meal, and keeping it in the freezer keeps it from smelling. At the end of each day after we finish washing our dishes from dinner we will empty the freezer bin into the outside bucket. This system works great for us at keeping our composting smell-free and doable.
What can be composted?
This is how I have managed to compost while living in a city. Comment below how you are able to compost in your city and how you manage it!
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Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.