The composting movement seems to work best when following by example. It’s especially helpful when actually watching folks get down n’ dirty with their organic waste — grimacing, gagging, and, as seen in Gaiam’s Compost-Off, on the verge on yaking. Somehow seeing others temporarily suffer for the sake of transforming trash into a nutrient-rich garden additive validates it. Look, how he handles that festering bin of rotting food with only minimal retching ... perhaps I can do that, too.

Wall Street Journal scribe Gwendolyn Bounds (see Wendy chat about her book Little Chapel on the River with MNN's Chuck Leavell here) is the latest home composter to go on camera to show the compost-timid how it’s done. In a recent video and accompanying article, Bounds tests out four different composters marketed towards the squeamish, impatient, and those with not a whole lot of physical space.

Just because the devices Bounds tries out promise speed, ease-of-use, and minimal gag-factors doesn’t mean the video doesn’t feature gratuitous garbage shots. It offers plenty. You get to watch Bounds wrangle (and serenade!) dozens of slimy worms, prepare a “trash smoothie,” pull dog hair out of a bin filled with churned-up food scraps, and bury fermenting waste in her backyard.

After watching the video, I not only felt the urge to shower but was also somewhat inspired by seeing Bounds handle the NatureMill Pro XE, a sleek, apartment-friendly plug-in device that Bounds dubs “the iPod of composters.” Buying an electricity-consuming appliance — a quite expensive one at that — to turn trash into compost seems a backwards, I know, but it for my situation, it would be the best alternative. 

So what is my situation? Let's just say I'm a bit — okay, very — smell-sensitive, don’t garden, don’t cook for myself terribly often, live in a fourth floor walk-up in Brooklyn, and have long thought that the only way I’d go compostal is if my landlord were to install a pneumatic tube system in my building that would whisk away food scraps from my kitchen to a remote compost pile. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen. But I’m also not quite ready to hold my breath around my small apartment as I let leftovers decompose. However, seeing Bounds yank dog hair out of a pile of hot garbage in the NatureMill Pro has piqued my interest.

Any urban composters out there want to tell me and other on-the-fence folks how it’s done right (gratuitous garbage videos helpful, but not mandatory)?

Via [The Wall Street Journal]

Thumbnail: arimoore

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Going compostal
<i>The Wall Street Journal</i>'s Gwendolyn Bounds tests user-friendly composters and strikes inspiration in this compost-shy blogger in the process.