About a year ago, I wrote a beginner’s guide to how to start your own compost pile. And believe me, I was really into it and so were a bunch of other people. I still believe that composting is the best way to effectively deal with food waste and scraps, but it was easy to spout such philosophies while living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I had to access not only to my own compost pile but also city compost- a beautiful system where you can toss your food scraps, pizza boxes, and even facial tissue into a green bin and the city hauls it away and turns it into compost FOR YOU.
Then I moved to Tucson, Arizona. There is no city compost here, no glorious green bin. It’s no man’s land. There used to be a pretty cool program called Scraps on Scraps that would haul your compost scraps away every two weeks for the monthly fee of $23. I’m not sure why they stopped, but now Tucson literally has no compost program what-so-ever. If you want to start composting, you have to have space for your own pile or container, and that’s not my current reality.
The first week I still set aside my food scraps like normal before the second week dawned and I began to experience what I can only describe as food scrap melancholy. It actually saddened me to throw away such valuable resources. I felt awful with the website that I run and the values that I put forth here, throwing away food.
I felt something else too. I felt ignorant and extremely privileged, to have gone so long with compost, definitely taking it for granted in all the ways that I had. It is REALLY easy to tell people from an ivory tower what they should be doing without ever realizing what that the vast majority of people go through every day with their food. We in the zero waste community really believe that people who don’t compost just don’t care, that it comes from a place of apathy, and
The reality is that people live in apartments. People live on concrete blocks without so much as a yard. Not everyone is cut out to start their own tiny worm bin in their condo. So what can we do to stay sustainable when composting isn’t really and option?
Create less food waste
This might sound obvious, like make sure you finish all the food in your fridge, but it goes beyond that. It involves buying produce that doesn’t garner as many scraps
The second part of this involves religiously eating all of the food you bring in to your house. Eliminating the need to throw away food at all can be a great step toward not composting.
Go the extra mile with your scraps
No one can create zero food waste, it’s just not possible. Egg shells, chicken bones, vegetable
For lots of great tips on eliminating food waste, check out my Pinterest Board, Combat Food Waste.
Renegade Returning it to the Earth
In no way do I think you should just dump all your food scraps in the woods- please don’t do that. Doing that will disrupt natural ecosystems and food chains and endanger wildlife. That said, throwing the occasional apple core into the bushes? Yeah. Do it. Sprinkling crushed
Find a Friend or Community Garden
Maybe you have a friend who can compost and wants to start a pile with you. Or perhaps your neighborhood features a cool community garden you didn’t even know about but has a compost pile. Look around your community for these options and see what you can find. I’m often surprised by how much good a little networking can do. If you do find a compost pile to donate to, this compostable counter compost bin by Bamboozle with a bamboo handle will help you tote your scraps, and it looks pretty adorable too.
If you really want to- Set up a worm bin in your apartment
This worm bin is small enough for your apartment, but large enough to create a comfy habitat for your new housemates, er, worms.
Don’t guilt yourself
Let me know
In the comments, let me know of other ways you stay sustainable when you can’t compost.