Composting in the City

Time is running out for me to get my composting act together.  I’ve been accumulating food scraps for about a week and it’s getting a bit out of hand.  This post will be the first step toward me starting a compost in my downtown Boston apartment.  It should be an adventure so I’m excited.

My first step was to contact my building’s management company to inquire about putting a compost in our “backyard” i.e. small fenced in space between 2 buildings.  The property manager had actually never heard of composting before so I spent some time on the phone educating him.  After explaining the fundamentals, his first question was if we were illegally growing pot plants in the apartment.  

I probably shouldn’t have been a smart ass by asking him if there was a legal way we could grow marijuana (I had to talk my way out of that one).  He just didn’t understand why we would need all of that composted material.  I told him that it was more about not throwing away food waste and less about what we were actually planting.  I told him about the blog and sent him a link, hopefully he reads this 🙂

After scoping out the options online I decided to build my own compost.  Off the shelf versions can be anywhere from $50 (subsidized by the city of Boston) to $150 (random websites).  I’m sure I can do better by just making it myself, put that $160,000 worth of engineering education to good use.  I read about what they call vermicomposting.  Vermiculture is apparently popular in the city because you can actually keep the compost under your kitchen sink and it doesn’t smell.  The worms will eat and then digest your leftover food and their feces acts as great fertilizer for your indoor plants.  However, you cannot use simply their excrement to plant things.  You first need to put your plant in top soil and cover the top soil with the vermiculture compost and everytime you water the plant the fertilizer will filter down to the plant’s roots helping it grow.  I’d rather use an outside compost but living in the city with no access to a back yard this might be my only option.   Allegedly vermicomposting won’t leave an odor either, but I’ll be the judge of that.

I think this is the one that I am going to build, CLICK ME.  The city of Boston’s website actually has some great info about both recycling and composting (as well as some super corny promo videos by Mayor Menino).

I need to acquire worms for this project so I found Groundwork Somerville  through my friend Glenn who worked for them in the past.  They have a cool service in Somerville, MA where they will pick up your compost every week via bicycle (partnered with Metro Pedal Power) .  You place your compostable materials in a white bucket lined with the provided biodegradable bag and they pick it up and leave you new bags.  

It costs about $40/week and considering that I don’t live in Somerville and that I don’t feel like spending $40/week to compost, I think I’m better off making my own.  Groundwork sells a composting guide book + worms for a “vermiculture” compost for $25 but again I think I can figure it out on my own (famous last words).   You can buy the worms from them for $20 so I might go that route if I can’t find anything else.

Lastly, I was tweeted at by Patagonia the other day and they directed me to a cool employee blog post about how they compost food waste from their on-site cafeteria.  Check it out: 

http://www.thecleanestline.com/2008/12/my-footprint–.html

Stay tuned for my compost construction project…

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This entry was posted in August - Life Without the Landfill. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Composting in the City

  1. June says:

    I like your writing style, the challenges that you put to yourself, photos, commentary, and recommendations. Kudos to you for living consciously!

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