countertop compost
Crate & Barrel’s 1-gallon compost bin is great for composters who lack yards. Photo courtesy of Crate & Barrel.
The New Year always provides an opportunity to reflect on the year prior, and this year I’m particularly pensive about my waste-reduction habits. In 2012, I want to push myself further when it comes to waste management in my home. One area that really needs improvement is my disposal of organic waste. I live in the heart of the city, and as such, I lack a yard to care for. This lifestyle certainly has its benefits, but one of the drawbacks is the difficulty when it comes to composting. When I was growing up in the suburban Midwest, my family had a heavily wooded back yard, which became home to a rather large and effective compost bin. Dead leaves, old banana peels and egg shells, grass clippings — it all ended up in the compost bin down the stone-lined path from our home, left to become mulch some time later, yielding some seriously rich and dense soil. I don’t have the benefit of a compost bin to bolt to my apartment floor, so I need to be a little flexible. That’s why a countertop compost bucket is atop my next-purchase list. At first, I kind of laughed off the idea of keeping a 1-gallon compost bucket around. It would fill up with food scraps quickly (I count my home-brewed coffee habit as my premier vice) and then there is the question of what to do with the end product. Interestingly, it took a look back to my 2010 resolution to make my 2012 resolution a realistic possibility. Two years back, I resolved to eat locally by supporting my neighborhood farmers market and restaurants with a lean on local products. I consider that resolution a major success — I eat locally whenever possible — and it helped me to realize a passion for cooking with fresh-grown herbs. The problem up to this point has been regularly purchasing these cooking aids, which has really added up to a major strain on my wallet. This is where the countertop compost bin will really come in handy. I can use the resulting soil to plant herbs on my balcony, a spot that receives plenty of daily sunshine needed to sprout healthy buds. It’s a win-win-win for me: No more throwing organic food waste into the garbage can, and free herbs for home cooking at the ready, which means big savings for me. Reuse to the rescue! I will need to be persistent in reminding myself to utilize the compost bin as I’m getting started. It will definitely take some getting used to, even after I plant my first herb pots, but I plan on sticking with this one. Who has had success with apartment composting and gardening and can offer friendly tips?