Compost: Everybody's doing it, or they should be. Food waste is a major contributor to landfills, which is why some cities are starting to get aggressive about requiring composting, with their own municipal composting services. Some people are taking the initiative themselves to get their food waste out of the waste stream, especially if they also have their own gardens or access to a community garden that could use their compost.
But compost isn't always fun to deal with. If it's not managed properly, it can get stinky, and it can also attract animals. If you're composting in your home in particular, you tend to want to control odors, so, how do you compost without driving yourself up the wall? It's a question that's been bothering a lot of people, so a whole slew of extremely efficient, compact and cleverly designed compost management systems has hit the market.
This product isn't actually on the market yet, but if you contribute to its Kickstarter so it can go into production, it will be! The bin, which comes in several sizes, is foot-operated, features compostable liners, and has a seal to keep unwanted odors out. It fits tidily on the floor or under the sink so it tucks out of the way in small kitchens where space is at a premium, and it's a family endeavor: It was designed by a father-daughter team!
Not so much a product as a method of composting, Bokashi involves the use of specialized microorganisms. Developed in Japan, it ferments organic materials for a very fast breakdown. Users start with a layer of bokashi, add organic material, and interlayer bokashi until the container is full. Then it's allowed to sit for a week to ten days to ferment, and the result is rich, delightful soil. It can be added to an existing compost pile to improve it, or applied directly to the garden.
Another product designed with small spaces in mind. This two-chambered system allows the user to put fresh food in the top chamber, where it's aerated, ventilated, and heated to help components break down. A push of a button routes it to the bottom chamber, where it ages for a week, at which point the user can pull out the tray and marvel at the rich, nicely-processed compost inside. The innovative system cuts down on odors and works fast, so people don't have to wait around for their compost.
Another way to manage space in a small kitchen: tuck compost into a drawer. Not literally, of course, because that could get unpleasant fast, but you can build a slide-out compost bin and hide it behind the face of a drawer, allowing you to pull it out when you're working and tuck it back in when you're not. Another interesting waste collection technique involves embedding a compost bin into the counter; as you chop, you can push waste right into the bin! Easy cleanup, and easy waste management, with a lid that locks down to seal the compost and keep odor down. If you're planning a kitchen remodel, talk to your contractor about the options for a discreet built-in compost.
Composting with worms is catching on in a big way, and no wonder. It's fast, low-odor, and yields great soil complete with worm castings that make it even richer than regular compost. That's why some companies are offering (and you can build) vermicomposting kits specifically designed for tight kitchen spaces. Many are multi-leveled to allow users to manage their compost more efficiently and effectively.
If you've been afraid of compost because you visualize it as a big stinky pile requiring the services of a carpenter to build an enclosure, think again! You can compost easily, efficiently and non-stinkily right in your own kitchen.
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Bokashi: Mack Male/Flickr