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Hassle-Free DIY Composting Tutorial for the Urban Dweller

Hassle-Free DIY Composting Tutorial for the Urban Dweller

Composting made easy while you catch up on TV

Now more than ever, you may find yourself constantly in the kitchen. Whether it be from cooking a full-course meal or snacking, the reality is our food waste adds up.

This surplus of scraps cannot only cause your trash to fill faster but also poses a threat in our fight against climate change. Food waste, when disposed of in a landfill, contributes a considerable amount of methane as it decomposes, a compound that is already 25 times more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2. Food waste also has negative impacts on water availability, as generally, agriculture is a resource-intensive practice.

The good news: you can help curb this impact without leaving your home. One timeless method of “recycling” that addresses the food waste issue head-on is composting.

Composting enriches your immediate ecosystem in a myriad of ways. It enhances the quality of your soil by helping it retain moisture and ward off pests, promotes the production of good fungi (that breaks down the organic matter that enriches soil quality), and reduces the need for chemical fertilizer. Additionally, it curbs methane emissions.

Not sold yet? Concerned you don’t have the space or resources?

One way is to support local composting pickup services. For information regarding Philadelphia’s compost services, check out our post here.

But what if I told you could accomplish all from this from your living room? With zero smell?

(It’s true!)

Living in a rowhome typically leaves little room to take on any ambitious composting endeavor. While at home composting devices such as the Urban Composter can be costly, big cardboard boxes and some spare cash can do the trick.

This technique is not very popular in the U.S, yet, but is revered and practice commonly in Japan. It requires 3 basic materials; cocopeat, which is derived from coconut husks, Kuntan (rice husk ash) which is also commonly used in Japan to improve overall soil health and cardboard boxes.

Once they interact the cocopeat and kuntan create an environment for aerobic bacteria to multiply and decompose the scraps. The ash catches the moisture so there’s no icky residue left behind and traps the smell as well, making the location of the box a non-factor.

Using these 3 components, you’re able to compost up to 1.5lbs of food waste in your home a day!

Assembly – What you will need:

**The authentic Japanese method calls for Kuntan (rice husk ash) which is not commonly found for sale in the U.S, however hardwood ash or “biochar” serves the same purpose here.

How to do it

A large cardboard box ensures breathability, it should also be reinforced at the bottom with another piece of cardboard, this where the weight of the compost will be carried. You can elevate the box by sitting it on top on books for more air flow.

It is recommended to use about three parts of the coco peat, and two parts of the ash, add the scraps, stir gently, then use a towel to cover the box. You should stir the mix about once every few hours.

Compost can be used for house plants and gardens of any variety and size. It’s easy to incorporate this simple yet impactful technique into your daily routine.  

For more detailed instruction you can follow this manual.

Show us your compost box creations by tweeting us @greenphillyblog!

Cover photo: Photo by Del Barrett on Unsplash

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Jada is a West Philly native passionate about environmental justice and climate adaptation in the city. Currently she is a Program Coordinator for the Overbrook Environmental Education Center, but in her spare time she enjoys spending time in nature, mixing music and tending to her plants. View all posts by Jada Ackley
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