Seeding Knowledge: Composting in Small Spaces

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, the Perma-family of two lives in a one-bedroom, downtown urban apartment.  Down the hall is a trash chute into which we’re supposed to throw… well, just about everything.  Food, garbage, recyclables… Supposedly, these are sorted once they reach the bottom of whatever vortex we’ve lobbed these tightly secured bags.  I am skeptical.  Worse, I know, because I do the cooking, that a ridiculous, HUGE percentage of that trash is food waste.

I had an old rabbit once.  He was the “salad recycler”, and was fed almost 100% via the trimmings of the myriad vegetables I ate each day (I also got massive bags of carrot tops from the farmer’s market, for free!).  He has since gone to the other side of the rabbit rainbow (did I mention he lived to be 11?), and now we have a dog who isn’t so interested in the browned ends of celery stalks.  Sometimes she gets to gnaw on a prime rib bone (better than a celery stalk, imo), or I trim off some beef liver for her, but that’s about it.  so I’ve been looking for a space-friendly way to compost this waste product, and chanced upon vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting is just like regular composting, but with the addition of worms to speed up and enrich the process.  The composting infrastructure is a little different, too.  While traditional composting systems rely on layers of waste and dry material, ventilated and occasionally turned in order to decompose, worms consume the bacterial waste product generated by the decomposition of food and migrate through the compost itself.  In addition to amazing, nutrient-rich top soil, you also get potential worm food for chickens, if you really want to close the carbon loop.  Given that my apartment has breed bans, and considers rabbits “wild animals”, I’m guessing I won’t be adding chickens to the equation anytime soon, but I’m still thrilled to have discovered this simple solution to my garbage problem.  And, according to The Nature Conservancy’s carbon footprint calculator, this could potentially reduce our household footprint by .6 tons of CO2 a year.  Two-fer.


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