Even though all those avocado pits, banana peels, eggshells, pumpkin skin, coffee grounds, and other non-edible parts of the foods we prepare are biodegradable – sending them to a landfill is not a good idea. Food waste is a major problem that contributes to over five percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, composting is a way to cut back on these emissions. It also gives a lot of benefits for recycling kitchen waste and making nutrient-rich soil you can use for gardening and as fertilizer for your plants. It also creates an aerobic environment, and methane-producing microbes don’t thrive in the presence of oxygen. If you want to tread lighter on the planet, these small actions can make a difference individually.
But if you live in the city and you lack the space, or if you don’t want to deal with an unsightly pile of waste and soil in your backyard, what are the best alternatives? What are the ways you can dispose of kitchen waste without adding it to our overburdened landfills?
1. In-ground composting
While technically, it’s still composting, there’s a key difference between traditional composting and these alternatives. Compost piles require some level of maintenance, like turning the piles, transporting the compost to a flowerbed or a garden, and other tasks. But in-ground composting is a passive approach. You simply dig a hole in your backyard, drop the kitchen waste there, and cover it up. You don’t need to maintain it or even think about it. It’s done.
2. Bokashi bin
If you like the idea of composting your food waste, but you don’t have room for an outdoor bin, or you don’t want to dig up the soil, the Japanese Bokashi system can be right for you. It’s not the most cost-effective approach out there, but it’s an option.
The Bokashi system is a process of fermenting food waste that can be done indoors without worrying about foul odors – thanks to its anaerobic approach that keeps the scraps in an air-tight container. It ferments the waste, leaving a highly nutritious compost that you can fertilize your plants with. The best part is it can be done inside the comforts of your home, making it perfect for those living in urban areas with no yard.
You can ferment food scraps like meat, fish, dairy, and any cooked food without the flies with a bokashi bin. But you can’t recycle liquid, bones, or any paper and plastic with it.
3. Food recycler
If you’d rather have not much to do with the waste you have in your kitchen, an electric composter such as a food recycler can be of help to you. It can actually dehydrate scraps and leave you with highly nutritious, dried, and grounded flakes you can fertilize your plants with or simply reduce the amount you throw away.
Having a food recycler is an elegant solution for managing kitchen waste. It would look great at a kitchen counter because it looks like an appliance. It offers odorless carbon filtration and uses a removable basket for easy cleaning. It can compost meat, bones, and other food scraps in a one-button push operation. All you need is a power socket to do its magic. It’s not cheap by any means, but it’s well worth considering if you can afford it and if you’re going for an eco-friendly living.
4. Worm farming
There’s something so satisfying about the idea of feeding your food scraps to hungry little worms to compost and recycle your food waste. You will need a worm farm or a worm composter, or simply make your own. If you are tight on money, you can try out this method.
The red worms, also known as tiger worms, are great in recycling waste and must not be confused with the usual reddish earthworms you can find in the garden. Once it’s up and running, the worm farm should smell earthy. After three to six months, you may harvest the worm castings at the bottom of the worm farm and use them to fertilize potted plants.
You may add fruits and vegetable scraps, old coffee grounds, used tea leaves, crushed eggshells, shredded paper towels, newspapers, and even hair clippings and vacuum dust.
5. Food recycling centers or local farmers
If none of these options are appealing to you, there are a couple of options depending on where you live. If you live in a city, it’s possible that there’s a local food recycling center near you that will gladly take that kitchen waste from you. It’s not the same as recycling centers for plastics – these are centers that focus on food waste from restaurants and homes and intentionally diverting these biodegradable waste from landfills.
Meanwhile, if you live in a rural area, you may look for local farmers who are happy to take those scraps off your hands to feed their chickens and pigs and those gardeners who create their own compost projects and natural fertilizers.