How to Compost in an Apartment

How to compost using a drop-off location | Composting for free in an apartment | Litterless

Composting has been shedding its stereotypes. It’s not just for farmers, for suburbanites with a backyard, for gardeners, for the time-rich, for environmentalists, for other people. Over the last four years, there’s been a huge shift in the resources available, and I’ve loved (LOVED) watching it become more accessible, affordable, and much, much easier to finagle in a small space.

I’ve lived in an apartment since college, and I’ve composted ever since the second month of living on my own. I’ve used pick-up services, drop-off locations, lobbed squash stems in my parents’ backyard bin, and checked out friends’ vermicomposting and bokashi composting set-ups. It all works.

If you, too, live in an apartment and have wondered if composting might fit into your home and routines, here is a run-down on the small-space solutions out there. All of the methods assume you don’t have yard space, and some of them don’t even require scrap of balcony, deck, or basement space.

How to compost using a drop-off location | Composting for free in an apartment | Litterless

-Pick-up services: When I lived in Chicago, I used a compost pick-up service for four years, and LOVED IT. For $15-$25 a month, all I had to do was dump my scraps in a bucket that the service provided and haul said bucket down to the curb once or twice a month. And the haulers took care of the rest!

If you elect to go with a pick-up service, it’s worth doing a little research to make sure you like where your food scraps (and dollars) are headed. Providers should be transparent about the method they use to compost food scraps and where the finished compost ends up. Ideally, you’d want the compost to go to landscaping, farms, gardens, or back to customers, or perhaps fed to animals; some lower-quality compost ends up as landfill topper, which ideally the company you’re considering doesn’t support.

Now more than ever, there are so many pick-up services out there, often several options in any particular city. (You can search your area on the Where to Compost page). If you can afford it, choosing a pick-up service is a wonderful way to support what is most likely a fairly new sustainable business in your area, and it is possibly the very easiest way to make sure your food scraps end up as compost. (If you’re curious, more notes about pick-up services, and the answers to a bunch of FAQs, in this post).

-Drop-off spots: No pick-up services in your area, or no wish to spend twenty bucks a month on one? Try dropping off your compost somewhere near you! This is how we currently compost from our home in Madison: every few days, we empty our countertop compost into a five-gallon bucket we keep sealed on our patio. When that fills up every few weeks, we drive it a couple of miles over to a local food scrap collection site. (This summer we may try to figure out how to haul that bucket in a bicycle panier or trailer).

I keep a list of drop-off spots on my Where to Compost guide, but if there aren’t any listed in your area, it’s worth doing some further research yourself. What you’re looking for is not a little compost bin at your favorite coffee shop, of course, but a specific community space that welcomes your food scrap drop-offs. Check with local farmers’ markets, community gardens, urban farms, community centers, your local area on ShareWaste.com, or even with neighbors and friends. Some drop-off spots will charge a fee for deposits, but it’s usually around $5 or less, and many are free.

One thing I love about using our drop-off service is that by the very act of depositing scraps, we’re driving demand to keep it running. The bins into which we empty our food scraps here in Madison are often empty or nearly empty. It would be easy for the provider to think that nobody uses the service and to stop investing in it; by adding our scraps each month, we help ensure the continued existence and success of the program.

-Vermicomposting: Worms! If worms are fascinating to you, chances are this is the method for you. If worms are not fascinating for you and-that’s-putting-it-mildly, skip ahead. Vermicomposting uses a special breed of worms and a small collection of bins to break down food scraps right inside your house or apartment (my brother keeps his vermicomposting set-up under his kitchen sink). When I visited him in New York last fall, I was surprised to find that his worm bins didn’t smell like anything other than wet newspaper and that they fit out-of-sight in a small cabinet. If you’re curious about “vermiposting,” as it’s often called, learn more here.

-Bokashi composting: This method is new to me, but I got to see it in action last year for the first time at my friend Moji’s apartment. Bokashi composting uses bokashi powder, or “bran,” to break down food scraps more quickly than traditional composting does; for this reason, it’s great for very small spaces. This article explains more about it without trying to sell you anything.

How to compost using a drop-off location | Composting for free in an apartment | Litterless

Other notes:

-You can freeze your food scraps to buy yourself more time to deposit it in the location of your choosing.

-Each method above allows you to compost a slightly different combination of items; in the case of pick-up services and drop-off locations, this will also vary by provider. Make sure to choose one that fits the way you and your family eat. If you have lots of meat scraps, perhaps commercial composting with a pick-up service will be your best bet; if it’s all carrot tops and apple cores around here, seeing if your friend will let you deposit scraps in her backyard bin may be just the thing.

-You can try lots of methods to see how they work. Love your pick-up service but winnowing down your monthly expenses? Try to find a drop-off spot. Worm care not meshing with your travel schedule? Consider bokashi. You don’t have to compost the same way forever, and each method you try is one you get the chance to learn a little more about.

-Our compost bucket pictured here is a gift from EarthHero. We sometimes line our bin with these compostable liners, but more often we leave it liner-less and just wash it after we empty it. (Note: these links are affiliate links, if you’d like to support Litterless as you shop).

Questions about apartment composting? Hurdles you just can’t quite cross? Send ‘em my way, please.

More posts on composting, here.

How to Compost with a Pick-Up Service

How to compost with a pick-up service for a zero waste home | Litterless

I don't need to spend time here extolling the virtues of composting: I love it, you know by now that I love it, we can move on. I'll spare you the rhapsodizing and jump right in. For the past four years of living in small Chicago apartments, I've used a pick-up service to take care of my organic waste. Without the yard space to devote to a conventional backyard bin or the desire to manage my own vermicomposting bin, getting my compost picked up each month has been an easy way to divert my food waste and other organics from the trash.

If you're in a similar situation and have been thinking about composting but aren't sure how to fit it into your yard-less / busy life (or what have you), a compost pick-up service might be a good option for you, too. Here's how they work:

Getting started:

-Find a service near you. Over the last few years, the number of pick-up services in operation across the United States has skyrocketed. Since few cities offer municipal pick-up, businesses have stepped in to take up the slack and offer options to people who want to compost but lack the yard space (or time or energy) to support their own backyard bin. I've used a pick-up service all four years that I've lived in Chicago, and I can't say enough good things about it. I keep a guide to services across the United States - find out if there's one operating in your city here.

-Choose your service frequency. Most services that I know of use a five-gallon bucket as their container of choice, so the question here is how long will it take you to fill a bucket with kitchen scraps. The majority of services offer a weekly, bi-weekly, and a monthly pick-up option, or some combination thereof. Which you choose to start with will depend on how many people are in your family, how often you eat at home, and how often you’re out of town. For the first few years I lived in Chicago, a monthly option worked for me, but last year I switched to bi-weekly. (Something about all those squash peels filling the bucket up more quickly in the fall, or something).

-Learn what you can and can’t compost. Too much contamination makes the finished compost essentially unusable. Depending on what method companies use to break down the food scraps, putting things in your compost that don't belong there can cause major problems. For example, some compost facilities grind up the waste they receive so that it breaks down faster. This means that if a plastic fork accidentally lands in your compost bucket and doesn't get sorted out in the facility, it might get ground up and hundreds of small plastic shards will end up in the finished compost. Contaminated compost like that can't be used on farms to grow food; instead, it's down-cycled into soil for landscaping or landfill topper.

This is all to say: what you put in your bucket matters! Most companies should have a list or printable that you can post above your bucket or inside a kitchen cabinet until you have your routine down pat. And, like recycling, when in doubt it's sometimes just better to throw it out.

-Mark your calendar. Most services will give you a heads’ up to put your bucket out the night before it's scheduled. After all, they don’t want to make it to your house only to find there’s nothing to pick up. Mine sends me a text the night before, but I usually jot down each pick-up in my calendar a few weeks in advance so that if I’m planning to be out of town, I’m able to cancel or postpone that week's pick-up ahead of time.

How to compost with a pick-up service for a zero waste home | Litterless

FAQs:

Where do you keep your bucket?

I generally keep mine on the back patio I share with a neighbor. With the lid tightly closed, I've never had a problem with animals or weather or anything untoward. One year when I lived in an apartment without any outdoor space at all, I stored the bucket in a cabinet under my kitchen sink and no one was the wiser. 

In the winter, I often move my compost bucket inside, as well. Ice can make it difficult to open and close the lid, and at any rate there's a limit to the number of trips outside I want to make when it's cold. When the weather's nice, I move it back outside. There are of course many options for where to keep your bucket (how about a basement, if you don't have outdoor space but don't want to keep it in your apartment?), but the important thing is making sure to shut the lid tightly each time you open it.

Does it smell?

Well, yes and no. In my experience, the bucket only smells when it’s open. Otherwise, the lid forms enough of a seal that any odors are kept inside. Like I mentioned, a few years ago when I lived in an apartment without a back patio I actually kept the bucket inside my kitchen year-round! To keep odors at bay, I try to minimize how often I open the bucket. I store food scraps in a bowl in my fridge or freezer, adding to it each time I cook. Then, when the bowl is full - every couple of days - I transfer the contents to the bucket. When I have extra room in my bucket, I also sometimes throw in some paper, which further tamps down odors.

What can you compost using this method?

It varies by service, so before you sign up check the website or send them an email to make sure that what you can compost in the service will work for your lifestyle. If you eat meat and dairy and are choosing between two pick-up services, whether or not one accepts those might be a determining factor in which service you ultimately choose. As an example, here's a list of what I can compost using my current pick-up service.

It's also worth checking in with your provider on what to do about forks, cups, and other items that are purported to be compostable. Certifications, decomposition times, and materials vary greatly, so take note of what specific non-food items, if any, your service accepts. Biodegradable doesn't mean the same thing as compostable; what you're looking for here is the latter designation.

What less expensive options are out there for people who want to compost but don’t have yard space?

From what I've seen, services tend to run between $15 - $30 a month depending on how often you need your bucket picked up and what exactly is offered in your area. I used to pay $15 for a monthly pick-up, but now pay $25 for bi-weekly.

If you live somewhere without outdoor space and want to compost but can't squeeze an extra expense into your budget, there are other options out there, but (like any service!) they vary by city. Many farmers' markets will accept compost drop-offs (sometimes for a fee of a few dollars), or you can search around for other drop-off locations in your city. Perhaps a local community garden might take your food scraps if you send them a friendly email, or you could reach out to a friend with a compost bin and ask if you can swing by their house a couple of times a month to add to it. If none of those work, ShareWaste is a website connecting people who have compost bins with people who want to compost. Or, there's always vermicomposting...

I have a backyard compost bin, but we can't put meat and dairy in it. Could this be a good supplement?

Yes! Backyard bins shouldn't play host to oils, grease, meat, or dairy, since the compost typically doesn't get hot enough to break these things down quickly enough (plus, they're calorie-dense and can attract critters). If you compost at home but want to stop throwing meat and other oils in the trash, a pick-up service might be a nice once-a-month addition to take care of things you can't compost in your backyard. It would also give you a place to compost all those pesky compostable forks, etc., which likewise don't typically break down in the backyard. Before you sign up, double check that the service accepts everything you'd want it to accept: then go for it!

What other questions can I answer? Or other tips you'd like to share? How are you composting these days?

PS. Read more about how to compost here, and check out the guide to pick-up services in the U.S. here.

Compost Beauty

Beautiful compost from Community Composting

On most days, the inside of my compost bucket looks like... a compost bucket: moldy, decomposing, and really a bit unpleasant. Either that or it's empty, because the old one was just picked up. There's not a whole lot of beauty to be found in mine, besides the conceptual beauty of keeping organic waste out of the landfill. Recently, I found these photographs of beautiful compost buckets on the Community Compost Instagram feed. Brightly colorful, artfully arranged, full of peels and browning flowers... they're gorgeous.

Beautiful compost from Community Composting

I talk about compost a lot on this blog, which might be because I'm obsessed with compost. This is something a friend said about me when introducing me at a zero waste get-together this past weekend. I thought, "Wait, am I obsessed with compost? (Yes). Did people notice? (Apparently). Is that an insult? (Not really)." But yes, I'll admit it, I am.

You can read more about my compost routine in my city apartment here, if you're curious. If you'd like to start composting but aren't sure where to start, here are a few resources that might be helpful:

Compost resources:

-How I Compost: This series I ran last year offers a peek into how folks around the world approach composting using different methods and tools. See how Shia uses worms to compost at her home in Germany, how Jane composts in her backyard in the United States, how Amira composts at her home in Turkey, and more. 

-Where to Compost: This directory of compost options in the United States and Canada aims to corral the diverse resources and compost pick-up providers into one easy guide. See if your city is on the list!

-Chicago residents: We have a billion (aka, at least twelve) composting options here, which work for apartment dwellers, condo-ers, homeowners, and the like. You can find them all here, including some tips on choosing the option that's best for you.

-Rochester, NY residents: If you live in or near Rochester, New York, you could compost with Community Composting, whose photos are featured above!

-And for the compost obsessed: Now that we've noted there's no shame in numbering amongst the slightly compost obsessed, you can read all my past posts on compost here (including tips for how to compost on the go, at work, more ideas for how to do so at home, etc!).

We can't all have beautiful, flower-strewn compost... but most of us can, in fact, have compost of some sort. As my friend Jenny noted recently, we can't currently do much about a certain garbage president, but in the meantime we can do something about our own literal garbage. Compost on, friends.

Compost On the Go

Compost on the go

A couple of days ago, a friend and I were chatting about compost (as you do), and how this weird perspective shift can happen: you can throw food in the trash for years or decades without thinking twice about it, but as soon as you start composting or start thinking about composting, putting food in the trash can start to feel so loaded. 

On the occasions over the last decade where composting wasn't available to me (most of college - yikes, a weeklong vacation to somewhere less progressive than Seattle, a trip away from Chicago to go to a wedding), throwing food scraps into the trash has always been accompanied by a persistent twinge of guilt, a small leaden feeling in my stomach.

(By the way, if you haven't figured out a way to make composting work for you yet, I'm not knocking you at all. It can be hard, especially for renters and apartment dwellers and students and travelers and those who are busy and those on a tight budget. You can take a peek at my guide here to see if there's an easy compost solution available in your city.)

In college, I got so fed up with having to ditch my apple cores and banana peels in trash cans that I developed a tactic I called "guerrilla composting." This involved pitching apple cores as deep into the woods as my arm could throw - a method that, yes, I know isn't particularly helpful or ecologically sound, and one that I probably wouldn't turn to now. But still: it speaks to the fact that composting can sink its teeth into you and not let you go.

So you better believe that I don't let a little thing like being away from home stop me if I can help it. A few weeks back, I shared how I approach composting when I'm traveling. Those techniques also apply to composting when I'm away from home but still in my city. Though I frequent restaurants and coffee shops that choose to compost their waste when I can, so often I find myself someplace that doesn't.

Most days, therefore, when I leave my house, I bring a small empty container with me. It's often a Ball jar like the one above, but I also sometimes place compost scraps in an empty water bottle, my emptied lunch container, or a cotton produce bag. Some of my friends use a Stasher reusable ziploc bag, which has the benefit of folding flat and not being breakable. For those who don't carry a purse or tote, you could fold compostable scraps in the paper napkin that came with your meal and stick it in your pocket temporarily.

Whatever the vessel, the approach is the same: to corral compostables picked up throughout the day. It might be a teabag, the crust of a sandwich, cherry pits, a clementine peel, a wooden toothpick, a paper napkin, an apple core. I tuck away anything that can be composted, and at the end of the day when I get home I empty the jar or bag into my compost bin, wash the jar out, and the next day I'm ready to start anew.

I keep coming back to this: we can set up our homes to be fairly low waste, but we can't control what businesses and workplaces and events offer us when we're out and about. We can lend our support to businesses that choose less wasteful practices, of course, but to try to avoid disposables completely can be maddening. So, sometimes I just have to accept that my sandwich will have a toothpick in it and that I'll get a paper napkin when I'd rather use my cloth one. But by planning to tote my compost home with me, I know that the detritus of the day won't, at least, go in the trash.

Are you part of team compost jar? What's your container of choice these days?

Composting While Traveling

Composting while traveling

Composting while traveling is hard. I've had my home composting set-up figured out for years, and when at home in Chicago I compost pretty much everything. Alas, this routine has also inculcated in me not only a devotion to composting but also a strong sense of guilt when I don't.

So, when I travel, I try to find places to compost the inevitable detritus of eating, of being a person: fruit peels, snacks that fell on the ground, cooking scraps, tea bags. Over the years, I've cobbled together a hodgepodge of various methods to try when I'm on the road. Below, the various strategies I use - and I'd love to hear yours, too.

Compost options while traveling.

-Check if the city offers composting. This, of course, is the ideal scenario. In the past year, I've traveled to two cities that offer municipal composting - Seattle and San Fransisco - and wow did that make it easy to stay zero waste. In Seattle, we collected food scraps in a bowl in the fridge of our Airbnb, then dropped them off in the apartment's communal compost bin for the city to pick up. Easy, peasy. In San Fransisco, I saw a compost bin as soon as I walked off the plane, and happily disposed of my orange peel and stale popcorn there. Then, I used my friend's compost bin in Oakland for anything else I acquired during the trip. Portland, Boulder, and Minneapolis offer public composting, too.

-Check if there are any local drop-off points. Even if the city doesn't collect compost, someplace within it might. In Asheville, we saved our food scraps to periodically drop off at the grocery store around the corner. (Of course, it helps to be in a slightly crunchy city where grocery stores do compost). In Philadelphia, I've bought a tea at a certain coffee shop just for the chance to toss my apple peel in their compost bin. In Madison, Wisconsin, we've utilized the university's public compost bins - which are always nearly empty, so I love the feeling that by using them we're helping prove that they're useful and needed.

The ethics of this choice are, of course, a tad murky; if possible, it's probably best to ask first if you can deposit a little compost from home in exchange for a purchase. But I will admit that in certain cases I've resorted to sneaking my compost bag in. You do what you do.

Composting while traveling

-Take it home with you. On a roadtrip, composting becomes a little easier, since you have all the room in the world to bring things with you. For an overnight trip, I'll bring a container like the one above, or a few containers of that size if I'm planning on cooking. My favorite move is to save a compostable takeout container from a past restaurant meal, because then at the end of the trip you can just put the whole thing straight into the compost, rather than having to deal with scraping out the food scraps and washing a less-than-pristine container.

If you'll be away on a roadtrip for a little longer, consider popping a compost bucket in the car. I've found that the five gallon bucket I use to hold my compost before it gets picked up doesn't smell if it's kept firmly closed, making it a contender for holding compost on the road.

Of course, none of this is really feasible on a longer trip, but maybe you can still collect a few small articles that aren't imminently perishable - the toothpick that came in your sandwich, the paper napkin from your restaurant meal - in a bag to take home with you to compost after the trip. Composting a little bit is always better than composting nothing at all.

-Reach out to someone local. This, of course, is a bit harder and more nebulous - but I've met so many lovely and generous people in this online zero waste community. Maybe you have a favorite blogger who'd be happy to meet up, or whom you can simply ask if they know of any hidden spots in their city to compost. Maybe you can message your burgeoning Instagram pal to ask if you can buy her a coffee in exchange for a place to compost. In Sonoma this April, I met up with a friend for dinner, and she graciously took my banana peel home with her, saying "What else are friends for?" Indeed.

-Use this guide to find a spot nearby. I keep a city-by-city list of where you can compost in the U.S. and Canada here, and my hope is that it's full of resources both for residents and for travelers. If you're headed somewhere new, take a peek! Maybe it will unearth just the composting tip you need.

Make it easier in your city.

If you'd like to make it a little easier on the next zero waste traveler to come to your town, a few ideas:

-Work toward municipal composting in your city. More thoughts on that, right here.

-Or work toward a smaller, easier solution. Maybe you volunteer at a community garden that you think could accept small donations of food scraps, or maybe you own a coffee shop and you'd love to open up your compost bin to the public in exchange for a donation or a purchase. 

-Update the guide with insider tips for your city. Check out your hometown here, and if you have something to add, use the form at the bottom of the page to send me your local composting ideas.

I'd love to hear how you approach composting while traveling, too - let's work together to make it easier for all of us! Tips to add?

Pictured here, a bit of compost from my weekend away.

Choosing Compostable

Compostable cork yoga mat

The first yoga mat I ever bought was a bright green plastic thing for maybe $15, impulse purchased on my way to college years ago at whatever big box store I was relying on to stock my dorm room with plastic under-bed bins, shower caddies, and window decals (yes: how far I've come). I used it for years, long after the footprints stopped scrubbing out and became just a general gray blur on each side of the mat. When I looked for a new one to replace it, I knew my ethics of consumption had changed: I no longer wanted the cheapest version, no longer wanted a plastic mat, and wanted something that would last even longer than the seven or so years of my first mat. And, yet, my plastic mat would last forever in a landfill - so, not something that would last that long.

To stay zero waste (ish), I'm careful to try to choose objects that are long-lasting over those that aren't. But, long-lasting rarely means forever-lasting (beloved cast iron skillet, you're the exception), so it matters too that when I purchase something I have an end game in mind, an alternative way to dispose of it or pass it along, sans landfill. For a lot of items, these endings look fairly simple: choosing cotton reusable produce bags over synthetic ones means that I can compost or upcycle the fabric when the bags become unusable. A stainless steel razor can be recycled when it's no longer useful, though they're durable enough that ones from decades past can still be found on eBay. Wooden cutting boards can eventually end up in the compost if someone forgets to dry them one too many times and mold creeps inexorably up the bottom.

But, for some items, knowing what to do with them once they're no longer usable is tough. As I'm faced with disposing of that plastic green mat (which probably is not in donate-able condition, although do you know of anyplace that needs old yoga mats or recycles them?), the choice I make when finding a better yoga mat this time around will bear fruit in another ten years or so, when I'll have better - though not perfect - options for what to do with it.

Enter this cork and rubber mat, a thoughtful gift from Ian at Gaia Guy. According to Ian, the entire mat will eventually compost - he suggests scoring it in multiple places and then wrapping it around the base of a tree, where it will break down, albeit quite slowly. From what I can tell, rubber does biodegrade, but takes a long time to so. He also offered the good idea of using the mat in other ways once it's too ratty for yoga but before it's fully outlived its usefulness - as a cushy pad for standing on in front of your workbench, as a similar pad in the garage, cut up into smaller rectangles to use as a gardening mat or doormat, etc. In lieu of composting the whole thing, I also wonder if I could carefully cut the cork top away from the rubber bottom, composting the cork and recycling the rubber. And then, of course, there are cork yoga blocks too, for which disposal will be even simpler: since they're pure cork, recycling them or composting them will be easy.

A little bit more about how I've found using the mat, if you're curious: because it's made of rubber and not plastic, it is a heavy, sturdy thing. It doesn't roll up into as small of a parcel as typical yoga mats do, and it's definitely not the type of thing you'd want to throw on your shoulder and stroll to yoga with (though if you drive, you could bring it in your car - or, you can find a lighter-weight, travel version here). I love its heft, though, which feels grounding and luxurious. The grippy rubber means that it stays put on the floor and doesn't crinkle under my feet in poses. I use it in my home yoga practice, and then take along the old green mat to studios when I need to bring my own, though I may just start renting a mat there each time.

I'm still not quite sure which option for disposal I'll choose for the mat ten years hence or so - probably a combination of a few of the ideas above. But, unlike that green plastic yoga mat, I do have choices for getting it to somewhere other than a landfill. And that, I like.

Citywide Composting

seattlecompost

In November, we flew to Seattle for vacation. And, guys, it was a composting HEAVEN. At my apartment in Chicago, I compost using a pickup service. I pay them a small fee each month, for which they pick up a five gallon bucket of my food scraps and replace it with a clean one I can fill up the following month. This system works well for me, but when I'm out and about composting gets harder. If a restaurant offers me a paper napkin I can't refuse, I'll take it home to compost. Same with lemon slices in my water, wooden toothpicks in sandwiches, tea bags, and more. I literally squirrel away all these little things to take home to compost, which is funny and weird.

In Seattle, though, composting is mandated by the city, which also provides bins and pickup services for it. So, at a restaurant, I could leave food on my plate, knowing it would be taken care of sustainably. Paper napkins I could throw in the compost on my way out. At coffee shops, I would compost my tea right there in the shop instead of taking it home with me. We were able to compost easily at our Airbnb, saving food scraps in the fridge and then tossing them in the apartment's shared compost bin on our way out the door. I felt free of the low-level compost guilt or obligation that I might feel at a Chicago restaurant; composting was so easy, integrated with my life rather than necessitating extra effort.

While the federal government refuses to take leadership on mitigating climate change and other environmental problems, we can ask our cities to step up. Seattle, San Fransisco, and Portland (and maybe a few other cities - does yours?) currently offer mandatory municipal composting. Their leadership proves that national action on this isn't necessary to create change - it can start with local cities serving as examples.

Composting is an essential part of an environmentally sound community. It diverts waste from the landfill, provides super-rich soil for increasingly depleted farmlands, and promotes a circular system in which "useless" food waste instead becomes regenerated into something that can grow more food. (And this article helps explain the ways in which composting can be financially beneficial for cities, too.)

If for you, like me, Seattle's system sounds like something you wish your city offered, let's start the long, long process of getting there. Can you start or sign a petition? Do an internet search to see if these efforts already exist in your area and offer your support? Talk with a local representative about the feasibility of getting started? Get together with a few zero waste friends together to start figuring out a way to lobby your city council?

There are so many ways in which our cities could do better sustainability-wise, so it's completely okay if this issue doesn't light your fire and you prefer to work on other things. Hopefully it lights someone else's!

In the meantime, if you don't compost currently, maybe this list can help you figure out how to do it where you live, whether you have a backyard or not.

//

PS. Cities can be environmental leaders in other ways, too. Seattle's city council just voted to divest over three billion dollars in city funds from Wells Fargo, which funds the Dakota Access Pipeline. Read more on that here, if you'd like. If your city isn't ready for composting, could you support its leadership on another environmental issue? Within the next month I'm planning to share what getting involved at a city level will look like for me going forward... stay tuned. Thanks for reading, friends.

Photograph from a dessert spot where we stopped in Seattle - isn't that the fanciest compost set-up you've ever seen?