How to Compost in an Apartment?

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Last Updated on October 26, 2022

We get emails from our readers who ask how they can safely compost in their apartment buildings. 

We’d like to commend you for making the decision to become eco-friendly and go zero waste. 

You may be uncertain about how to go about composting indoors if you’ve never made compost before. In this article, we will be sharing with you a guide on how to compost in an apartment.

Why You Should Compost 

Kitchen scraps make up more than 35% of the waste in the average American garbage bin. These scraps are rich materials that can be used in composting to provide nutrients for backyard gardens and indoor plants. When the trash from your home is carried by the garbage truck, they end up in landfills that lack oxygen. These encourage the release of methane gas which is stronger than carbon-di-oxide and not good for the environment. 

Organic and inorganic waste has been found to have been in the same form since the 1950s. Getting kitchen scraps out of our waste bins and using them to make fertilizers for plants will save the environment a great deal. 


You might be thinking that having a compost bin indoors will make your apartment to smell. This is not true. The reason your trash bin smells is the mixture of the organic and inorganic waste inside of the bin. When you throw sausages, orange peels, tomato paste, eggshells, and the rest things that get into your trash away. They do not get easily decomposed becomes of the differences in materials. This slows down the decay process of the organic materials which in combination with the heat generated inside the bin, makes it smell.  

You can result in apartment composting to help contribute to reducing poisonous gas emissions. 

Below are some of the ways you can compost inside your house. 

How to Compost in an Apartment 

  • Use a Worm Composter 

Vermicomposting also referred to as worm composters are a good composting option. They are portable, easy to use, and efficient in processing organic waste into worm tea which is then fed as nutrients to indoor plants. With a worm composter, you save yourself the stress of turning the pile like in the traditional composting. The worms are responsible for turning the waste and speeding up the rate of decomposition. All you need to do is to ensure the conditions are in place for them to flourish. 

You can make your own indoor composter by putting holes in a plastic bag and filling a third of it with wet newspaper and throw your food scraps into it. Ensure that you shred the newspaper or any other paper you intend to recycle. The holes need to be drilled at the top of the bag for ventilation and at the bottom for drainage. For best results and less work, you can stack piles of plastic bags with holes in them to allow the worms to easily access the newly deposited waste. It also makes it easier for you to harvest the fresh compost from the bottom of the pile. 

You can purchase ready-made composters to use on your indoor plants. They help to save you the time of making compost but provide you with worm tea for your plant. When shopping for a worm composter, you should ensure that it has the right mechanism to collect already made nutrient. A well-designed worm composter ensures that the decomposition is odorless. 

Worms like the red wigglers are some of the widely used worms for composting and can be easily purchased for use. It is important that you note that to get the best out of using a worm composter, you need to meet certain conditions such as 

  1. You need to ensure that you keep the indoor temperature between 40 and 80°F. Worms don’t thrive in freezing conditions; neither should they be kept in direct sunlight or rain. 
  2. For your composter to work perfectly, you need to provide enough nitrogen sources. Shredded newspapers are good examples of inorganic substances to include in your compost. 
  3. When making use of a tote bag system, you need to ensure you keep things neat by stacking bags up in a pile. This helps to make things easy for the worms to perform their duties and for you to collect the nutrients. 
  4. Lastly, ensure that the worms are constantly fed with kitchen scrap. 
  • Use a Compost Tumbler 

Compost tumblers are another good choice for apartment composting. If you stay in a block of flat or building with an accessible rooftop or balcony, you can keep a compost tumbler for your personal use. These compost tumblers are completely sealed to help trap in the heat that is produced by the compost. This helps to speed the rate of decomposition. 

Compost tumblers are designed with handles and turning systems that make it easy to mix the materials. This creates enough air circulation ensuring the compost is aerated. If you are looking for a quick method to convert kitchen waste to fertilizer, you can opt for a compost tumbler. They can process your kitchen waste in 2 weeks. You also get to avoid the common pest problems associated with composting since the tumblers are sealed. This makes this a good option if you reside in urban areas with little tolerance for rodents. 


They also don’t give off a foul odor and is a clean method of processing kitchen waste. The only downside is that you cannot keep them indoors and need to be kept close to you. Rooftops and balconies are a good place to keep them. You will have to create a temporary collection system before transferring the waste to the tumbler. You can use a ceramic or stainless steel pail to store your kitchen waste before transferring it to the compost tumbler. 

There are compost tumblers that come in different shapes and sizes. You can easily find one that can fit into a small area close to your apartment. Compost tumblers are best kept in areas you can easily have access to. You shouldn’t keep it on a rooftop you can enter freely. Also, if you can, it is best that you get a compost tumbler with dual compartments. This makes it easier to compost more waste. 

  • Use Private Collection Centers 

You can search around for private businesses around you that collect compost. In most cases, these businesses offer their services to neighbors to help collect their kitchen waste for a fee and return an amount of fresh compost in return. This way you are disposing of your waste in return for compost at a small price. 

This is a good method if you are not interested in composting but still need your waste to be used in providing extra nutrients for plants. But it is important that you know that it will cost you more to use a collection than have a composter indoors. The good part of using a collection center is that you do not get yourself involved with any of the mess associated with composting.  

Best Materials to Use in Indoor Composting 

What Are the Materials You Can Use in Your Apartment Compost? 

You should know that you can’t just toss anything you want inside your compost bin. This is because you don’t want to have to deal with having smelly compost inside your apartment. The stench can be unbearable and is also unhealthy for you. This is why you need to take into consideration the things you toss into your compost bin.

The best method to adopt when selecting materials to add to your compost bin is to make the inorganic materials slightly more than the organic materials. Fruit and vegetable waste are rich in nitrogen which is needed to combine with the carbon-rich newspapers to speed up decomposition. This also helps to ensure that the compost bin doesn’t smell. 

You can check the list below for the nitrogen and carbon-rich content that you can compost in your apartment 

Organic/Nitrogen Rich Materials 

  • Tea leaves 
  • Seaweed 
  • Kelp 
  • Lawn grass clippings 
  • Weeds
  • Green leaves 
  • Garden plants 
  • Flowers 
  • Coffee grounds 

Inorganic/Carbon Rich Materials

  • Pellets 
  • Wood chips 
  • Wood ash 
  • Hay 
  • Straw
  • Shredded newspaper 
  • Sawdust 
  • Brown leaves 
  • Corn cobs 
  • Cardboard
  • Eggshells 
  • Peat moss
  • Shredded brown paper bag 
  • Branches 



How do you compost food waste in an apartment?

The short answer is you don't. It's not good for you, and it's not good for the planet. You can't compost food waste at home because you don't have a backyard or a garden to throw your scraps into. Food waste is one of the most harmful things we throw away. It's filled with bacteria that can cause serious health problems, like salmonella. But that doesn't mean you're stuck. There are a few options available to you, depending on where you live and what kind of apartment you live in.
Food waste can be composted in the same manner as yard waste, i.e., in a bin with a lid, and mixed with some garden soil (or even regular soil) to ensure that it is turned over enough to break down the waste. If you have a large bin, you may need to use a fork to turn it. Some people also mix in leaves, grass clippings, or straw.
A good system will be able to handle all your food waste. You will also want a large bin that holds at least twice as much waste as the volume of the bin.

Can I compost on my balcony?

Yes, you can compost on your own balcony. You just need a few things and you will be composting soon. Compost bin (or compost pail) A compost bin is a great thing to have for your garden because it will help you keep the garden soil healthy. It will also help you recycle any food scraps that you have, as well as help you to avoid buying fertilizer.
You will need to use an appropriate bin, such as one that is made of wood, plastic or concrete. You will also need some soil, grass clippings, manure and a shovel. Choose the right size of bin for your space.
You should also make sure that the bin is located in a place where you can easily access it. The compost bin should be at least 6-8 inches off the ground so that you don’t have to bend down to put your food scraps into the bin. The lid should be on the bin and you should be able to easily remove the contents of the bin once it is full.  You will need to prepare the soil before putting the compost bin in your balcony.

Does a compost bin need air holes?

The only reason for air holes is if you want to prevent pests from getting into the compost, so that it can be used as mulch. In that case, they are essential. However, if you're planning to use the compost as fertilizer, it doesn't really matter how much air is in there. The air helps oxygenate the decomposing material, but that's about all it does.

Can I compost in a bucket?

Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter, such as food waste and yard trimmings, to create nutrient-rich soil. The composted material can then be used in your garden or for landscaping projects. You can compost in a bucket if you have a large enough container and a way to aerate it. Some compost bins are designed specifically for composting, while others are more suitable for general use.

How do I compost in a bucket? There are two main methods for composting in a bucket. One method is to mix shredded newspaper, grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and other organic matter with water and add a high-nitrogen fertilizer. The mixture is then left in a dark area for several months to break down. The other method is to place the organic matter into a bucket and add a high-carbon fertilizer. Water is added periodically to keep the material moist until it decomposes.

What to Do with Excess Compost 

If you only have a few indoor plants or a small garden that doesn’t end up using all the compost you produce, you can easily give them out for use. You can take them to the farmer’s market or donate them at your local community garden. You can ask around for gardeners who are interested in fresh compost. They will be more than willing to compensate you for your efforts. 

We are practically certain that you have learned a few tips on how to compost in an apartment. If you have any further questions or will like to add a few tips, we will be glad to hear from you in the comment section. 


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