Separating organic waste from non-organic waste to keep food waste out of landfills is an essential step to combat climate change. When our kitchen scraps end up in landfills, not only do they take up physical space, but they release tons of methane into the atmosphere. Because of all those greenhouse gas emissions and the sheer volume of wasted food each year, food waste has been a main actor in climate change.
To make as big a difference as possible, everyone needs to do what they can to take care of their organic waste in a sustainable manner. However, living in a city as big as Los Angeles, you might be wondering what your options are. While you may not have plenty of space, there are still many sustainable composting options available to you. We're going to check out what those options look like:
- What is the Los Angeles compost law?
- Where to compost in Los Angeles
- How to compost in Los Angeles: 7 methods to try
- What's the best way to compost for free in Los Angeles?
First, we're going to dive into the laws around compost in Los Angeles. What do you need to do?
What is the Los Angeles compost law?
California passed into law Senate Bill 1383 back in 2016 with the intent to reduce the state's methane emissions. The bill stated jurisdictions would be required to provide organic waste collection services to residents beginning in 2022, and residents are required to separate their organic waste from other waste.
As this new law is only coming into effect this year, you won't need to worry about fines for not following regulations. However, residents can expect fines in future years for failing to properly separate their waste.
What this means for LA residents is that you'll need to either opt into the city of Los Angeles' compost collection services or find some other way to take care of your organic material. Thankfully, taking care of your organic matter can actually be pretty easy.
Where to compost in Los Angeles
At this point, residents have a variety of options for where they can compost in Los Angeles. If you don't want to compost at home, there are composting facilities, curbside green bins, and community composting programs available to you. Here are some organizations to help you start composting:
Pick-up / Drop-off
The city’s compost collection service.
Depends on your location.
A non-profit organization that connects LA residents with community compost access.
There are various locations partnered with LA Compost across the city. Find one close to you.
It depends on the drop-off location. You can contact those locations for appropriate drop-off times.
A commercial composting facility in Los Angeles. They provide pick-up or drop-off service with multiple payment plans.
Pick-up at your curbside or drop-off at various locations.
Anytime between 10 am and 6 pm on your pick-up day.
How to compost in Los Angeles: 7 methods you should try
If you're just getting started with composting in Los Angeles, you might be a bit lost on what all your options are. That's what we're here for. There are many different ways to compost, even if you live in a large, cramped city. Here are some of your best options:
1. A compost pick-up service
One of the more obvious solutions is to sign up for a pick-up service. It's certainly easy to throw all your food waste into some green bins to get picked up with the regular garbage disposal. In LA, you have a couple of options for pick-up services. The first is LA's municipal composting service. This will be collected at your curbside and taken to municipal composting facilities.
Another option is to purchase a pick-up plan with Compostable LA. They have a few different plans depending on your needs, including what you're looking to compost. Many of their plans also include the option of receiving finished compost on a regular basis. This is a fantastic choice if you could really use some finished compost at home but aren't able to make it yourself.
Try this method if: You're unable to compost at home, or just don't want to put the effort or time into composting. If you still want to receive finished compost, make sure to sign up for one of Compostable LA's plans.
2. Dropping compost off somewhere else
Having someone come and pick up your green waste isn't always an option, or may just not be your preferred option. In that case, you can also choose to take your yard waste and kitchen pails someplace else. Compostable LA has a paid drop-off plan, so you can take your food waste and yard waste to one of their composting sites. You can also get in contact with LA Compost to take your green waste to one of the sites they're partnered with.
Going through organizations isn't your only option, though. You likely already know people who would be willing to take your food waste to add to their own compost pile. For example, you could have friends, family, or even neighbors that are making their own compost. Ask around to see if anyone's willing to turn your scraps into black gold.
If you ask around and nobody can take your scraps, there's still a decent chance you can find somewhere to take them. Community gardens will often take kitchen scraps from residents to make their own compost. It's also possible to take your scraps to farmer's markets to see if any farmers are taking food waste donations.
Try this method if: You can't have your waste picked up, or would just prefer not to, but still can't start composting at home. This is also a great choice if you want to see the difference that your food waste is making to the people receiving your waste.
3. Electric composting with Lomi
Living in the city of Los Angeles and trying to compost is normally difficult for one big reason: a lack of space. If that's your problem, you don't need to worry anymore. Anyone can compost at home without any yard space and very little kitchen space when they use an electric composter.
An electric composter, like Lomi, is the size of a small kitchen appliance and can fit in anyone's home. However, that's hardly the greatest benefit Lomi offers. On top of being the perfect size to hold a day's worth of food scraps, Lomi can finish breaking down those scraps in less than a whole day. That means you'll be provided with beautiful nutrient-rich dirt to feed your plants on a daily basis.
Lomi is also an effortless way to compost that takes hardly any of your time. To use Lomi, all you need to do is put your food scraps in the bucket, put on its lid, and press a button. After that, you only need to wait for it to finish. Absolutely anyone living in the city would be able to compost using Lomi.
Try this method if: You want to try home composting but don't have much space for traditional composting. Electric composting is also ideal for anyone who wants a regular supply of natural fertilizer.
4. Traditional outdoor composting
For those of you that do have outdoor space, backyard composting is a great choice. Even if you only have a small amount of yard space, you can have an outdoor compost pile. Your compost pile doesn't need to be large to be effective.
There are a few different methods of outdoor composting that range in difficulty and effort. The easiest way to compost outside is called cold composting. Essentially, you just throw all your food scraps in one pile and let it sit there until it's finished composting. It requires basically no effort at all, but this is also the slowest method of composting and can take up to a year or more to finish.
There are a couple of other popular methods you can try which require a bit more effort but will finish much quicker. One is hot turning, which is similar to cold composting. the difference is that you mix the compost pile every once in a while. This distributes the heat throughout the food and yard waste, resulting in faster compost. The other method is trench composting, which is pretty much what it sounds like. You dig up some trenches, throw your food scraps in them, and then cover them up again.
There are so many different ways to compost both outside and inside, you can choose whichever method suits you best. For more information on these different methods, you can check out one of our guides on how to compost.
Try this method if: You have the outdoor space required for this kind of home composting.
5. Indoor composting
If you don't have outdoor space, you can also try traditional composting methods indoor. One common way to do this is essentially hot turning on a smaller scale. You can place your food scraps and yard trimmings in a small kitchen compost bin and turn that every once in a while. You need to make sure you use the right amount of carbon dense waste and nitrogen dense waste for it to compost properly, but other than that there really is little work involved. It should also be fairly easy to find a good indoor compost bin in Los Angeles.
If you're worried about indoor composting because of the smell, you don't need to. The composting process should generate an earthy scent with bad smells resulting from easily fixable mistakes. There are also plenty of ways to prevent indoor compost from stinking up your house.
Try this method if: You don't have outdoor space for traditional composting, but still want to start composting. This is also one of the cheapest ways to start composting because you only need to buy a small compost bin.
6. Tumbler composting
Composting with a compost tumbler can be done either indoors or outdoors. It would take up less space than a backyard compost pile, but more space than Lomi or a small kitchen compost bin. The benefit of a compost tumbler is that it takes most of the work out of composting, but it won't make the composting process any faster.
A compost tumbler is set above the ground with a handle on its side. turning the handle turns the whole bin, mixing the food scraps that are inside. This is a much quicker and easier process than manually turning the compost yourself. It also keeps the compost contained in an enclosed bin where you can be sure no unpleasant smells can escape and no pests can enter.
Try this method if: You have enough outdoor space for compost, but you want your food scraps and yard trimmings in an enclosed container. It's also perfect for anyone wanting to reduce the amount of effort required to compost.
7. Worm composting
Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, is another common method of both indoor and outdoor composting. Simply put, you include a specific breed of worms in your compost to help break down your food waste. This is a much quicker way to compost, resulting in finished product within about a month.
For vermicomposting, what you can compost will be slightly different because of what you can feed the worms and what they shouldn't eat. You'll also need to sort the worms out of the finished product when they're done. However, they do produce a nutritious fertilizer in a short amount of time.
Try this method if: People who want to compost more quickly than normal and aren't squeamish around worms.
What’s the best way to compost for free in Los Angeles?
The easiest way for anyone living in Los Angeles to compost at home is with Lomi. Lomi is the perfect size for anyone's home, is super simple to use, and can produce nutrient-rich dirt every day. You don't need to pay a subscription fee for a pick-up or drop-off service, and it's effortless to use.
Lomi also offers three different modes depending on what you need:
- Eco-Express: This mode only takes 3 - 5 hours to finish, and is the most energy efficient option.
- Lomi Approved: If you have bioplastics at home, this is the mode for you. In only 5 - 8 hours, Lomi is able to compost Lomi approved bioplastics, including its own packaging!
- Grow: In 16 - 20 hours, this mode produces a dirt full of nutrients perfect for feeding garden beds, potted plants, and more.
Composting is essential for reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, whether that's through a green bin program or home composting. Although it may not have seemed like it, there are plenty of ways to compost in LA. It's especially easy and accessible with Lomi - you can learn more about Lomi's energy efficiency and about its carbon footprint on our blog. However you choose to compost, just know that you're doing what you can to improve our environment.
Written by: Sereana Simpson