The benefits of composting are clear: it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, decreases waste going to landfills, and strengthens new growth. Taking part in the composting process, even without space for a traditional backyard compost bin, is vital for the future of our environment. Thankfully, there are some easy indoor composting methods that anyone can use.
Indoor apartment composting is typically done with worms. However, there are many reasons someone might not want to use worms, and it isn't necessary to get the job done. Instead, we're going to show you how to compost indoors without worms, and why composting indoors without worms might be preferable for you:
- Can you compost without worms?
- Why compost indoors without worms?
- Top 8 tips for composting at home without worms
- 6 easy ways of composting without worms indoors
- The bottom line: what is the best way to compost without worms in an apartment?
If you've only ever heard people talking about how great worm composting is, you may not even know there are other options, so let's start there.
Can you compost without worms?
Although composting with worms - or vermicomposting - is generally seen as the more efficient method, it is absolutely possible to compost indoors without worms! Another method of composting is aerobic composting, which you can easily accomplish indoors, even if you currently live in an apartment.
Aerobic composting uses microorganisms to decompose organic material. It's called aerobic composting because those microorganisms rely on oxygen to survive, so it's essential for your compost bins to have some sort of air pockets or airflow.
Why compost indoors without worms?
If vermicomposting is viewed as "better" by many, then why choose indoor composting without worms? There are both pros and cons to using worms, and the downsides can outweigh the benefits. Some might just feel gross with a bin full of worms in their home. Here are other cons you might want to consider:
- There's added cost to vermicomposting simply because you also need to buy worms on top of everything else.
- Making mistakes with vermicomposting can quickly lead to offensive odors throughout your apartment.
- Vermicomposting can be higher maintenance than aerobic composting because you have to frequently monitor how much your worms have to eat and if you need to add more waste.
- Harvesting your finished compost is more work when vermicomposting because you need to sort all the worms out of it.
Top 8 tips for composting at home without worms
If you've chosen to compost indoors without worms, here are some tips to make that process easier and more successful:
- Use technology when you can: New technology is being made all the time to make processes like composting easier and more efficient. Taking advantage of these technologies when you can will only improve your composting efforts.
- Turn your compost: Without worms to naturally aerate the contents of your compost bin, you'll need to do it yourself. This just means turning your compost once per week.
- Use compost activators: Getting the composting process going can be a bit difficult without the right balance of materials. If you find you're struggling to create compost without worms, you can add compost activators to accelerate the process.
- Cut up your kitchen scraps: Smaller materials break down faster than larger pieces. Cutting up your organic matter before throwing it in compost bins will speed up the composting process.
- Use the right ratio of brown to green waste: Your compost pile should generally contain 3 parts of brown waste to 1 part of green waste. Green waste is nitrogen-rich material (generally your food scraps), while brown waste is carbon-rich material (things like shredded newspaper and dead leaves).
- Avoid fruit flies and pests: Keep your food waste buried under soil and brown materials in the compost bin to prevent fruit flies and other unwanted pests from arriving.
- Keep your compost moist: The microorganisms breaking down pre-compost require oxygen to survive, and they get that oxygen through the moisture in the pre-compost. If you find the pre-compost is getting dry, you can just spray it with some water.
- Keep a bag of shredded newspaper or dried leaves: This will act as any brown material that you need, which you can use for compost refills or to add extra if your pre-compost is too wet.
6 easy ways of composting without worms indoors
There are a few different ways you can go about apartment composting without worms, many of which will take very little effort at all. Let's take a look at your options:
1. Use an electric composter
Electric composters are ideal for composting in an apartment without worms. One of the biggest concerns with apartment composting is space. Electric composters are the perfect response to that because most of them are fairly small and could easily just fit on the kitchen counter.
Even if you're not living in an apartment and space isn't a concern for you, electric composters are still fantastic. They take all the work out of indoor composting. Just toss your kitchen waste in your electronic compost bins and wait for the signal that they're done.
Not only will the electric composter make the process much easier, but it will also make it much quicker. For example, Lomi can decompose your food scraps in as little as 3 hours.
Use this method if: You don't have time or space for a standard compost bin, but you still want to benefit from receiving pre-compost regularly.
Try this product: Lomi
Pro tip: Try an electric composter for quick and effortless indoor composting. Lomi can create nutrient-rich dirt perfect for your home plants in as little as 16 hours, and dirt ready for the garbage in even less time.
2. DIY compost bin
You can set up a compost bin in your home or apartment that is much like a traditional outdoor compost pile, but much smaller. With this setup, you'll want to follow all the standard steps for creating pre-compost, while also following our tips for making pre-compost without worms.
With this method, you'll also want to keep in mind where your compost bin will go. If you have some sort of balcony or porch that has space for it, that would be perfect. However, we understand that's not an option for many people. Instead, you'll want to find somewhere dark and out of the way for your indoor compost bin. If it fits, under your kitchen sink is a great spot, especially as it will be easy to access. Otherwise, you may want to make space for it in a closet.
How to make a DIY compost bin
Because the compost pile needs some airflow, making a compost bin is just a bit more work than just buying a bucket. But, that is your first step. Just buy whatever sturdy bucket (with a lid) is a good size for you.
Once you've got your bucket, you'll need to drill small holes a couple of inches apart all around the sides and the top of the bucket. Then make sure you have a small tray you can place it in to catch any liquid that might leak out. You can also line the inside of the bin with a wire mesh to make sure pests can't get in through the holes.
Use this method if: You have a tight budget but aren't afraid to bring out some tools and a can-do attitude!
Try this product: Sturdy 5-gallon bucket
Pro tip: You can make your bin whatever size you need it to be. Between 5 and 10 gallons is good for a small household of 1 or 2 people, but any larger than that and you'll want something closer to 18 gallons.
3. Bokashi bin
Another option is the relatively new Bokashi method, which uses anaerobic decomposition to create pre-compost. All you need to do to get started with this method is to buy a Bokashi bin kit and follow its instructions.
The gist of the process is that you mix all your food waste in the bins with Bokashi bran, the sort of compost activator it comes with. Once it's all in there, you'll need to compact the pile real good to make sure there aren't a bunch of air pockets in it.
You'll have a finished compost pile after about 2 weeks. However, that pre-compost won't be good to use in your house plants or garden because it will be too acidic. To make it useable, you'd first need to bury it somewhere for a while, or have a second bin in your home just to cover it in dirt for a while.
This is still a fantastic option for reducing GHGs from food waste, and is a pretty much guaranteed odor-free solution.
Use this method if: You're worried about odors and want finished compost quickly, but don't really care about being able to use it for plants or gardening.
Try this product: 5-gallon Bokashi Bin
Pro tip: If you have even a small amount of yard space, you can easily turn the results from the Bokashi bin into useable pre-compost for your house plants. Just bury your compost pile for a few weeks and you'll be good to go!
4. Compost tumbler
If you want to do standard aerobic composting with only half of the work, a compost tumbler is perfect for you. Although a bit larger than you might make yourself, these indoor compost bins are definitely efficient. The larger size also makes it a great option for larger families that would create more food scraps.
You do need a bit more space with compost tumblers, so this choice is better if you do have a balcony or at least a small amount of yard space. Of course, it also works well if you have enough space in your house, such as a large closet.
All you need to do with this one is throw in your food scraps and brown waste, trying to keep that best ratio, and then spin the handle every few days to give it all a good mix!
Use this method if: You have the space and budget for a slightly larger solution that takes out some of the work for you.
Try this product: IM4000 Dual Chamber Tumbling Composter
Pro tip: Compost tumblers will give you great and useable pre-compost material when they're done. Go ahead and add some of it to your own plants, or save some for your friends.
5. Take your kitchen scraps elsewhere
Not everyone has the space, money, or even energy required to make compost themselves, and that's okay! That doesn't mean it's impossible to compost your food scraps. Believe it or not, there are actually other people who will happily take your vegetable scraps and kitchen waste off your hands and compost it for you.
A great example of this is a community garden. They'll generally have compost piles to use for their own vegetables and flowers, and that organic matter from somewhere. Reach out to whoever is in charge of your community garden and see if you can drop off your waste.
Use this method if: Composting indoors isn't a good option for you, and you have community gardens or other resources near you.
Pro tip: Farmer's markets can also be a great place to check for people taking compostables. Just ask around at different farm stalls if anyone wants your kitchen scraps.
6. Collection service
If there aren't any community resources near you that can take care of your food scraps, and you aren't in a position to take care of them yourself, you can also look into private collection services in your area.
For a small fee, these collection services will take your organic waste to be composted elsewhere in a sustainable manner, so you don't just have to throw it in the trash. This is a wonderful resource for those who aren't capable of composting indoors.
Use this method if: Composting indoors isn't a good option for you, and you don't have community resources near you.
Try this resource: Compost pickup services in the US and Canada
Pro tip: Check out the above resource to research all the collection services in your area. Compare the costs and their process to pick the most sustainable option!
The bottom line: what is the best way to compost without worms in an apartment?
If you want to start composting in an apartment without worms, electric composters are hands down the best way to go. They're the fastest, easiest, and cleanest way to compost indoors. With Lomi, you get useable, nutrient-rich dirt in as little as 16 hours. In even less time, you can get dirt that can be sustainably thrown away. You even get all of that in a small, countertop appliance that is crazy simple to use. You cannot go wrong with Lomi.
Start sustainably taking care of food waste with your Lomi. You can also take a look at our blog to learn more about composting indoors, or about how to reduce your overall kitchen waste in general. With the effect waste is having on our planet, every person's decisions and actions matter, so make smart choices with your waste!
Written by: Sereana Simpson