Let’s play a game. Take a moment and peek into your garbage can. For every fruit or vegetable scrap, eggshell, pile of coffee grinds or pizza crust you see, give yourself a point. For this game we’re playing by golf rules: the lower the points, the higher the score. How did you do?
Food scraps comprise a large portion of Canadian waste-bin space, but they don’t belong there! Don’t let being an apartment dweller prevent you from composting and living your best eco-friendly life.
Don’t know where to begin? Here are some quick and easy tips on how you can gain your environmental karma back.
For most urban renters, a compost bin is probably the best solution. Worm compost bins are one of the most resourceful compost options available for apartment dwellers. The worm method is portable and quick, as worms help process your household waste and produce nutrient-rich “worm-tea”—a beneficial addition to the soil of your household plants.
DIY Worm Compost Bin
Purchase a medium to large plastic bin with two lids: one for the top and the other to place under the bottom. Poke a few, scattered holes in the bottom of the bin for drainage, and a few holes in the top of the lid for ventilation. Place the second lid underneath the bin to catch liquid.
Now onto the wiggly night-crawlers.
You can purchase worms in various places around Winnipeg: your local garden centre, a vermicomposting facility (www.naturesperfectplantfood.com), or even Kijiji, just to name a few. To make the bin feel like home for the worms, soak the bin with water and line the sides and bottom of the bin with shredded newspapers. Lastly, spread a little soil over the paper and plop in those slimy fellas.
Now that you have prepared the compost bin, you can begin throwing in your food scraps. To avoid odors and to guarantee more efficient composting, be sure to continue adding more damp newspaper strips, leaves and/or dirt along with your scraps.
Compost Bin Without the Worms
If you’re not fond of worms, you need not include them! Follow the steps above and simply omit the worms; just be prepared for the food to take a bit longer to break down.
Where to Store your Bin
Determine the best place for you. Common locations are under the sink, in an infrequently used closet, on the balcony, or even in a window flower box.
The benefit of keeping compost in your freezer is that you don’t have to worry about maintaining the compost bin and it’s out of sight, out of mind.
Slide that tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and that freezer-burned hamburger meat to one side to clear up some space. You can use brown paper bags, compostable plastic bags or a freezer-safe jar or tub. This composting solution is great for dropping your food waste straight from the chopping board.
The only downside to this alternative is that you’ll be taking more trips to dispose of your composting drop-off.
Where to Take Your Compost
Compost can be dropped off at various locations around the city.
Green Action Centre (www.greenactioncentre.ca) provides a list of local places that accept compost waste; and if you’re really dedicated, Compost Winnipeg (www.compostwinnipeg.ca) offers home compost pick-up for a small fee. Alternatively, you might consider approaching a local community garden with an offering of your compost.
This method is for those who want to compost their extra food bits a bit faster!
You can use your blender to break down food scraps—though I would recommend skipping the avocado pits or anything too tough for your blender to tackle. Go ahead and throw those egg shells, coffee grinds, and fruit peels into the blender, add some water and let it rumble.
You can easily dispose of this compost smoothie by adding small amounts to the soil of your indoor plants, or by pouring it into a flowerbed or soil patch near your apartment. With the onset of our traditional Winnipeg six-month winters, ask your friends or work colleagues if they have an outdoor compost bin you can use during the snowy months, or contact your local indoor greenhouses/gardens.
Lastly, have fun with composting! Don’t think of it as a chore. It will soon become routine, just like separating your recycling from the rest of your garbage. You just may inspire your other apartment-dwelling friends and neighbours to take on an eco-friendlier lifestyle.