Anaerobic composting is a simple and fun alternative to the usual ways of composting, which include using a compost bin, a tumbler, or worms. While it may be the easiest method, it takes a really long time to finish and it has different environmental consequences…more on that in a moment.
A popular method I’ve read about is to use two thick black garbage bags, a bucket to measure out the contents and some water. Add equal parts shredded food scraps (no meat/dairy/seafood), soil+some finished compost, and “brown” materials (shredded leaves, shredded paper). Add some water to get the material damp, but not completely soaked. Tie off the bag, then put it inside the other garbage bag and tie that off, too. All done!
This process is often said to finish within 6-8 weeks, but based on my findings, I’m willing to bet that’s unusually fast. I gave it another six months to sit…how does it look? The results are really nice! Was it worth it? Yes and no.
If you’re composting, that means you’re avoiding throwing away perfectly good material to the landfill, which is always a good thing. Speaking of landfills, they spew out one third of our methane output (along with nearly 100 non-methane organic compounds that are severely toxic such as dioxins and furans), which has a global warming potential 23 times greater than carbon dioxide (results from aerobic composting).
While only a small amount is emitted when opening the bag, every little bit counts and aerobic home composting is the best method.
Maybe I’m being a bit over the top…your home composting effort is obviously not composed of the same materials as a landfill and therefore has drastically different emissions. Regardless, I want you to think about it… compost as much as you can!
The easily avoidable negative aspect is that I’m creating garbage bag waste, so this will be the last time I try anaerobic composting using this method. At least I can hold onto this garbage bag and fill it up over time with my non-compostable/non-recyclables, which is a pretty small amount of our waste if you think about it.
A commenter on my previous anaerobic composting video stated that I should try using a 5 gallon bucket with lid so I avoid the plastic bag waste. While the standard lid wouldn’t be airtight enough, there are definitely airtight lids out there such as the Gamma Lid brand that has locking lids.
So there you have it- not the best possible method, and I always suggest aerobic composting over anaerobic, but if this method works better for you (try buckets!) and keeps you from sending stuff to the landfill, go for it.
If you’d like to learn more about landfill gas and their emissions, check here: http://www.energyjustice.net/lfg#2