Keys to composting food waste for apartment dwellers

Keys to composting food waste for apartment dwellers

While on paper it may seem like a bridge too far, if you live in an apartment and don’t have access to a backyard, composting your kitchen waste is still very much achievable with modern solutions. 

The Bokashi One is one such modern solution – an innovative, compact composting system specifically designed to be used in apartments. Big enough to compost your food waste yet small enough to fit snugly in your kitchen, the Bokashi One sufficiently contains all compost-related odours while the lid is in place. There will be a small, but very manageable, odour when the lid is lifted to add waste.

The odour will vary depending on what type of waste is placed in the Bokashi One, but it will typically be a fermenting smell, like vinegar or cider. The odour, a natural by-product of the composting process, can occasionally be more noticeable, and this generally occurs during periods of warm weather, or when the juice has not been drained regularly. To avoid this, it is recommended that the Bokashi One is drained at least twice a week.

It is also recommended that food waste be added to the Bokashi One immediately after it is produced, rather than leaving it on the kitchen bench and only infrequently adding it to the composting system throughout the week. If food waste cannot be placed in the Bokashi One immediately, then it is better that it be stored in the fridge, as this will stall its natural deterioration until it can be placed in the compost.

Composting juice can also have a strong smell for the same reasons, so when draining the juice, be sure to use it immediately. If the juice can’t be used immediately and the smell is too much to bare, then store the Bokashi One on your balcony, away from direct sunlight.  

For apartment dwellers, there is still the challenge of what to do with the Bokashi compost waste. You can add the waste to larger tubs, but depending on how much waste you produce, you may require quite a few of these. When the Bokashi One is full, you will have around 19 litres of waste. If adding the compost waste to a container, use a ratio of one part soil on the bottom, then one part Bokashi waste, followed by two parts soil on top.  

Therefore, the container you use would have to be large enough to hold a total of 76 litres of soil and waste if your Bokashi One is full. The waste will break down in this container, but can take anywhere between three and 12 weeks to completely break down, depending on the type of waste and the temperature. Waste will always breakdown faster in warmer weather. You can add more waste to this same container, but for best results, leave it to sit for a few months before doing so. 

The other alternative is to empty the Bokashi waste elsewhere. The Bokashi bucket can weigh 16kg when full, however it is quite portable, meaning emptying the waste in a friend’s or family member’s garden or compost bin, or even community gardens, are good alternatives. If in your apartment complex there are grounds where you could simply bury the waste, this could also be an option. You can, of course, also empty the bucket before it is completely full, if this makes it easier to manage.  

Do you live in an apartment and compost your food waste? Or do you have issues with effectively disposing of your food waste? Share your comments below. If you’re interested in composting your food or pet waste and have questions about how to get started, then leave those questions below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
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