Tag Archives: apartment composting

Worms After a Fresh Rain

worm-can-1

 

worm-can-2

I’m curious how long these guys will stick around…it’s October now, and the temperatures are starting to drop at night just a bit.

They love coming up around the edges of the trash can composter after a good rain.  Love it!

Looking to compost indoors through the winter?    Click here to learn more.

Use a Trash Can on the Balcony Instead of a Bucket.

Some of my most popular videos are balcony composting videos…I made them a long time ago using really small buckets.

While this method does work, you’ll get better results with a bigger bin.

Every time I respond to a comment on those videos, I always mention using a trash can.

While both a cat litter bucket and a trash can are considered “cold” composting, I’ve found that the more volume, the better.  It allows for more material, it’ll insulate itself a bit better, and you need volume in order to get the process really going.

Watch the video above and apply that design to your balcony/confined space if at all possible- your results will be much, much better!

Summer Worm Composting: So Far, So Good

I’ve been enjoying the Worm Inn Mega this summer with no issues, and it’s simply due to having ample cover material.

The Worm Inn Mega is big enough for there to be plenty of cover material to begin with…you can really load it up to prevent flying pests and also keep the worms busy.

I actually have a hard time filling it up because the worms are just mowing through the material- Capacity really makes the whole process a lot easier.

I just realized that you might not have heard about this system…

Have you seen the Worm Inn Mega yet?  Check out my dorky review below for more information… this is my top recommendation for those of you out there looking to compost at home but lack the outdoor space.

Vermicomposting made simple.

Click here to learn more about the Worm Inn Mega system.

 

Do You Love Your Trash Can?

trash can composter

Wow, I started this thing over a year ago and I still haven’t filled it up.

While I usually add to my big cubic yard sized bin, the can’s been getting attention too.

How is this working?  Honestly, I was surprised this system would work this well due to its limited size.

Then I remembered that it’s basically the same capacity as a compost tumbler, without the tumbling function…which isn’t needed.

My major finding is that simply leaving the lid off and getting it soaked every few days is enough to keep this thing going smoothly.

Dry piles are slow piles, and compost craves moisture- I found that the warmer months dried out my can quicker with the lid on…try it out- pests aren’t an issue with this system.

If you’re a semi-regular reader of the site or viewer of my videos, you’ll know what I’m going to say next-

Cover your food scraps!  Each time you add food scraps, cover them up with a layer of browns.  That’s it- the earth’s oldest process is hassle-free.

City Composting: Try the Alley?

philly alley

I walked around in this alley and had a look inside all of the trash cans.

The majority were for recyclables, but the ones that were trash, were mostly organic materials… this is going to be the case if you don’t compost.

Notice how much of a mess this alley is?  It smelled pretty rank, too.

Not that I care it smells, but the smells could be completely avoided by adding a trash can of another kind used for compost.

This alley is one block from a public park full of leaves and dead plants (cover materials).  Get creative and divert your organics…I promise you it isn’t hard, and the rewards are beyond satisfying.

 

Scarborough condo leading way toward ‘zero waste’

Check out this link to original article, reposted below:

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/03/05/scarborough-condo-leading-way-toward-zero-waste.html

 

Toronto’s path to diverting all waste from a rapidly filling landfill might start at a Scarborough condominium.

The 1,000 or so residents of Mayfair on the Green responded to skyrocketing waste fees with a multi-pronged diversion campaign. They turned the garbage chute into an organics collector, tapped city educational tools including multilingual signs and cut trash output to one dumpster every two months from one dumpster every week.

“If you really talk to the people and they really understand, they will help,” says Princely Soundranayagam, the building’s superintendent who has spearheaded the transformation since 2004.

“Also, put a dollar mark (of savings) in front of them. In the beginning it is hard to get people to change but once you explain the benefits, they will co-operate to save money and for the environment.”

The condo used to spend $7,000 to $10,000 a year to get drains cleared. The problem stopped when Soundranayagam gave residents empty containers to bring down used cooking oil. Now they sell the used oil.

Toronto Environmental Alliance is calling Mayfair on the Green an example for the kind of thinking Torontonians — and city staff — urgently need to embrace.

“They are blowing everyone out of the water” by diverting more than 85 per cent, compared with the 26-per-cent highrise average, says Emily Alfred, a senior campaigner at the environmental advocacy group.

Tenants at Mayfair on the Green have set aside space where they leave unwanted toys and other items for others to take so that they don’t go in the garbage.

Keith Beaty

Tenants at Mayfair on the Green have set aside space where they leave unwanted toys and other items for others to take so that they don’t go in the garbage.

“The city should study that building, find out what they did and use it as a model . . . get people thinking differently. The city should invest in people and education to get them excited about reducing consumption and diverting more of their waste.”

Toronto used to be a diversion leader. In 2007, when the residential diversion rate was 42 per cent, the city said it would get to 70 per cent by 2010. More than five years after that target, the rate is stalled at 53 per cent.

As the city consults Torontonians on its solid waste strategy, Toronto Environmental Alliance has released a road map to “zero waste.”

The report cites models for change and suggests Toronto invest in successful programs such as Second Harvest, which distributes surplus food from restaurants and stores to community agencies.

“If they had twice as many trucks, they could go to twice as many restaurants,” Alfred said. “There is a tool library (for reusing items) that struggles to find space, that has to rent space. The city could easily boost its diversion rate with some smart investments.”

The clock is ticking and big money is at stake. Green Lane landfill, near London, Ont., bought by Toronto a decade ago for $220 million, is expected to be full by 2029.

Alfred warned that it takes years to get environmental approvals for a new landfill. It’s expensive to bury waste, and so are technological answers like incineration. Diversion is the quickest, cheapest and best solution, she said.

The path to zero waste

Organics

Making green bins available for diverting organic waste in more places is one fo the ways the city can influence how Torontonians handle trash.

Chris So

Making green bins available for diverting organic waste in more places is one fo the ways the city can influence how Torontonians handle trash.

41%: Amount in a typical house garbage bag that could be diverted

54%: Amount in a typical apartment/condo garbage bag that could be diverted

Green bins are finally starting to be offered to highrise dwellers, but with a city policy change they could be everywhere from offices to restaurants and malls, Toronto Environmental Alliance says. Community groups such as Second Harvest could be expanded and encouraged. Civic examples to follow include San Francisco, where all buildings must collect organic waste for compost.

Recyclables

If blue bins were more consistently available at businesses, more recyclables could be saved.

David Cooper

If blue bins were more consistently available at businesses, more recyclables could be saved.

20%: Amount in a typical house garbage bag that could be diverted

24%: Amount in a typical apartment/condo garbage bag that could be diverted

While Torontonians are pretty good at using blue bins, they send up to 84,000 tonnes of recyclables to landfill every year. Consistent rules ensuring people have the same access to blue bins at home and work would boost the diversion rate. Companies need to reduce packaging. In Vancouver, businesses are forced to collect the same recyclables as homes and schools.

Hazardous waste, electronic waste, durable goods

It's convenient to find a place for old electronic or hazardous waste in Toronto, and mobile depots could help raise the service's visibility.

Glenn Lowson

It’s convenient to find a place for old electronic or hazardous waste in Toronto, and mobile depots could help raise the service’s visibility.

4%: Amount in a typical house garbage bag that could be diverted

4%: Amount in a typical apartment/condo garbage bag that could be diverted

These items are a small part of the waste stream but pose environmental and health hazards. In Toronto it is inconvenient for businesses, schools and others to dispose of hazardous and electronic materials properly. Mobile, highly visible depots would help. Community partners that could be expanded include the REBOOT second-hand computer service.

Reusables

Reusing old clothes helps conserve the energy that went into producing them.

Carlos Osorio

Reusing old clothes helps conserve the energy that went into producing them.

6%: Amount in a typical house garbage bag that could be diverted

4%: Amount in a typical apartment/condo garbage bag that could be diverted

Clothing, toys and furniture that could have a second life are dumped in landfill every day. Reusing those items is even better than recycling because it conserves the energy that went into producing them. The Toronto Tool Library, Repair Café Toronto and Kind Exchange are showing the way. Regulations could force companies to make products with longer life spans.

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

This is an issue I constantly hear about, and the solution lies with the tenants.  For some reason, apartment complexes don’t appear to be mandated to recycle (or compost).

For those of you living in apartment complexes, if you want change, you need to ask management for it.  It will take pressure, of course, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t take too much if you got enough signatures.

In Philadelphia, recycling fees are cheaper than trash fees.  Organics collection is often cheaper as well.  The trickier route would be to set up a series of three bins and have a shared composting space.  Leaf collection could be stored in one bin, and then alternate between two bins for the actual composting process.

In December 2014, I was able to guide an eager composter through this, and now there’s a 30-household composting project going on.  While a naysayer may say whatever, the reality is that this stuff is contagious once the message resonates.

All that’s needed is just a few concerned/curious/enthusiastic/energetic people and permission (or not).  Getting organics out of the landfill is top priority today, and over time this movement is going to greatly expand.

As for the excess stuff shelf, that’s awesome!  That’s another one of those things where moving all the excess things from the curb in bags to inside a building in a nicely done space changes everything- I love it!

Great work, Scarborough!

How to Compost in an Apartment (video)

How to Compost in an Apartment

I found this cool composting video that involves using a khamba, or series of 3 terracotta pots that you rotate as they’re filled up with material.  This reminds me of a stacking tray vermicomposting system, but for composting.

They look beautiful, too!  If I had this on my balcony, no one would know what they were for, unlike my kitty litter buckets.

One interesting tidbit in there was when buttermilk was mentioned as a source of microorganisms to get a fresh compost pile activated…I’ll have to try that one!

I think this looks like a project that could be easily taken with 3 5 gallon buckets and lids:  Fasten the lids on two of the buckets, cut out the lid except for the outer 2 inches or so, and leave the top lid untouched.  Drill holes around the sides for some airflow, and there you have it!

How to Make Balcony Composting Even Easier in 15 Minutes or Less

How to Make Balcony Composting Even Easier in 15 Minutes or Less

A guy by the name of “travelsignguy” often comments on my Youtube videos, offering feedback and suggestions.  Last week I posted the video “How to Start Balcony Composting in 15 Minutes or Less”, and he made a great process improvement suggestion right away.

I know I don’t like turning compost, and I don’t think anyone does.  He suggested to add a third bucket to alternate with the top bucket in the system.  Perfect!

In other words, drill holes in a third bucket on the sides and bottom, then each week dump the bucket with composting material into the empty bucket, and put that one into play.  By doing this, you’re effectively tumbling your compost.  The material is being completely overturned, and this is a great oxygen exchange as well.

Thanks, travelsignguy!

Another frequent watcher of my videos, “zetreque”, wanted me to explain leachate.  In short, we collect it in this system so that the excess moisture doesn’t build up inside the bucket.  This would create a soggy mess and counteract the process quite a bit.

Since the moisture drains through, it allows the contents to stay moist, but not soggy.  The leachate in the bottom most likely contains few beneficial microorganisms and may lean towards anaerobic.

You may wonder why many composter models have a collection unit of some sort, advertising compost tea as a byproduct.  While I’m not a compost tea expert, since the contents aren’t yet compost, the water running through isn’t going to be effective as compost tea.  However, when your compost is finished and is sitting in your tumbler or what have you, empty the collection and start it again…this time through you should have something you can work with if you act fast.

I always recommend Praxxus’ video E-Z Compost Tea to learn the simplest method for creating compost tea.  I hope this explains the difference between compost tea (made with finished compost and water) and leachate (wastewater that trickled through waste that’s in the composting process).