Guide to Apartment and Condo Composting

Written by Brian Enright

Composting is a popular green technique that gardeners use to enrich the soil of their flowers and vegetable gardens. Because it contains banana peels, eggshells, and other types of garbage, it is often done outdoors in one's yard. This can be a problem for people who live in apartments; however, a person doesn't need to live in a house or have a yard to compost. People who live in condos or apartments can also make compost for their potted plants, and they can even do it right from their kitchen. Vermicomposting is a popular composting method for people who live in condos. It is discreet, is odor-free when properly maintained, and can be done in a small bin.

How Does it Work?

With this method, people use red worms or red wigglers. These are worms that will eat food scraps, decaying leaves and grass, cardboard, and other organic materials. In addition to food, worms must also have moist bedding that they will also eat and turn into vermicompost. This bedding may consist of shredded and soaked newspaper and soil. As these worms eat, their bodies break down the material. When it exits their body as waste, it is called worm castings or vermicompost. Scraps are continually added to the bin to create more compost. This waste is then used to enrich the soil for plants.

  • How to Compost in Your Apartment: Click this link to the EcoWatch website to find information on how to compost when living in an apartment. Visitors to the site will also find an apartment composting infographic that follows the process from the beginning to the end results and also offers tips and solutions.
  • Using Red Worms for Indoor Composting: Open this link to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden website to learn about composting indoors using red worms. The article explains why it is good for apartments and reviews how to start and maintain the system.
  • Vermicomposting for Your Apartment: People living in apartments may click this link to the Mother Earth Living website to learn about composting using worms.
  • Vermicomposting 101: Discover why one should use vermicomposting, how it works, and how to get started by reading this article on the Grace Communications Foundation website.
  • Can Apartment Dwellers Compost? Read how people living in apartments can still compost by clicking this link to the David Suzuki Foundation website. The article discusses vermicomposting and how it can create fertilizer.
  • How to Compost if You Live in an Apartment or Condo: People who live in high-rises still have options to compost their kitchen waste.
  • Vermicomposting (PDF): This vermicomposting fact sheet explains what vermicomposting is, the types of worms used, and how to construct the bins and add the worms and necessary materials. The sheet also briefly explains why this is the ideal technique for apartments.

Where Does the Composting Take Place?

To make compost in an apartment, a 12-to-20-gallon bin may be used and stored in a dark and out-of-sight location. For some people, a convenient location is under the kitchen sink. When the outdoor temperature is between 40 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, people who live in condos or apartments with balconies or patios may do their composting outdoors as long as they use a dark bin. When temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the worms should be moved indoors. Worm bins should have lids, have holes at the bottom for aeration, and be made of wood or plastic, as metal can be potentially harmful to the worms.

  • Vermicomposting: Read about vermicomposting, which can be used in an indoor setting such as apartments. The page includes information on how to make and use worm bins.
  • Vermicomposting: A Smart Winter Compost Option: Condo and apartment residents can learn about this method of composting, which uses worms. This link outlines how vermicomposting may be used during the winter months, the necessary conditions, and the type of bins that are used.
  • Cheap and Easy Worm Bin: Click this page to review how to make worm bins for composting. The page explains what to feed and not feed the worms and troubleshoots common problems.
  • Composting 101:This Composting 101 article is associated with Dirt! The Movie. The article covers composting basics such as how one can do it themselves and how to get started. Readers also learn how it is done indoors and in small apartments using red wigglers and a wooden or plastic bin.
  • Vermicomposting (Composting With Worms): The Essex-Windor Solid Waste Authority explains vermicomposting to people who click this link to visit its site. Readers will learn why worms are used and why this method is ideal for apartments.
  • Worms in the City: Apartment Composting: Watch this Time video about composting using worms while living in the big city.
  • How to Make Your Own Indoor Compost Bin: On this page, individuals who live in an apartment will find instructions for what to use when composting indoors and how to do it.
  • How to Compost Indoors: On this page, visitors to the Rodale's OrganicLife website can either watch a movie or read about how to compost indoors. The video is a tutorial on how to make a compost bin and then what to put into it.