I don’t have room to compost!

Filed in Blog by on November 16, 2009 10 Comments
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Composting doesn't need much space

Composting doesn't need much space

One of the themes of our zero waste website is to encourage readers to view their ‘rubbish’ as a resource. A simple way to achieve this is with composting.

With home composting, you can divert valuable ‘waste’ from the landfill and make yourself a great soil improver for the garden. You can use the finished product for your indoor houseplants, patio containers, hanging baskets and windowboxes as well as large gardens and lawns.

Making your own compost saves you money, helps keep items out of the landfill that would otherwise rot and produce methane (a potent greenhouse gas) AND it means you don’t have to buy compost in thick plastic bags; which then need disposing of!

It’s also a great way to dip your toe into self sufficiency.

The trouble is, according to WRAP’s latest research, the number one reason for people not composting is lack of space.

When you talk about compost, many people imagine a great big heap at the bottom of a large garden that has to be turned regularly.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Whether you have a large rambling estate, live in a semi detached house or have a small flat, there is a composting solution for you.

  • Compost bins are available in a huge range of sizes and styles to suit all gardens.
  • Wormeries take up less space than a water butt and can be kept in a shed, garage or porch. They will provide you with rich plant food for houseplants and containers.
  • A bokashi bin will sit on your kitchen worktop and you can put meat and dairy into them, unlike a compost heap.

According to WRAP, we throw away 4 million tonnes of waste every year in the UK, which could be composed. It’s a shame that many people are put off by what they perceive to be lack of space.

To help people make the most of composing, Recycle Now have put together some helpful information about home composting. The other week, Mrs A discovered a great ‘table top’ composter and if you need information about composting, Compost Woman is a master composter and is on hand to help you!

What tips would you give to someone who wanted to compost in a limited space?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (10)

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  1. Darren says:

    If you have a lot of space this is a great idea, but here in the uk.. well in my area at least we already have 4 wheely type bins and unless you have a huge house/garden its sometime not practicle.

  2. I compost using two plastic storage containers stacked on top of one another. They don’t take up much space, and I add to the top one all the time. I think the key, here, is to not expect fast results. Just keep turning your compost and aerating it. It’s not going to go as fast as when you have a compost heap on the south 40 that you can let sit and just start a new one when the old one gets full.

    And for comparison, Mr. Savvy and I live in a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of an old house. We keep the compost bins outside by the shed. If we lived in our old apartment building that had zero outdoor space for us, we’d keep the bins on our deck. It’s not impossible to compost in small spaces. And the payoffs of not throwing away food are tremendous — we decreased our garbage output by about 50-60 percent.

  3. Ailbhe says:

    Whose kitchen worktops have the space for a bokashi bin?!

    We had a can’o’worms wormery which couldn’t keep up with even our raw waste (peelings, carrot tops, etc) so we got a bokashi, but they definitely wouldn’t fit in our kitchen! I do wish we had some kind of use for the resulting gloop though; we just add it to a waterbutt-style composter in the garden, but our garden makes the one in the photo look like a vast and spacious estate, so it doesn’t *use* much compost.

    Still, at least it’s not landfill.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @Darren: Hi Darren, welcome to the site. Yes we all have different circumstances and it’s not always easy. We stayed in a mobile home for a week on holiday and I really tried hard to get my head around how people manage to recycle in a small space. I did come up with some solutions, but whether they would be any good in the long term, I don’t know.
    Do you not compost at all then – what constraints do you have?

    @SavvyChristine: I love your comment Christine – thank you! It’s very inspiring and I think you’re right; it’s about taking away the need for instant results. You show how it can be done in a second floor apartment – all power to you. I appreciate we have a large garden, so it’s not so difficult for us, which means I really admire what you are doing!
    Thanks for sharing the solution that works for you.

    @Ailbhe: Hi Ailbhe, well I guess we all live differently. I deliberately keep my worksurfaces pretty clear. I just have the kettle, chopping board, compost caddy, telephone and that’s about it on there. because I like to cook I like to have clear spaces, so I would be able to fit on a bokashi if I needed to. Our kitchen is quite small.
    It’s a shame things aren’t working out the way you would like to. I wonder if a bokashi works outside the back door; does it need a certain temperature to work effectively?

  5. CompostingCath says:

    You still need somewhere to put the Bokashi after it has fermented, so you would need somewhere outside. The traditional method I believe is to burry the pickeled waste or alternatively you add it to a compost bin.

  6. Hi Mrs G – I remember our first composter we bought was for a tiny garden that we had at our last house. Having been brought up composting (I promise I did have other hobbies, really), it was something that seemed the right thing to do. These days we have two plastic composters and a wormery. Our Bokashi waste has been reduced to simply an ice-cream tub that we keep under the sink in the kitchen, which is great because like Ailbhe we have so little room in our kitchen. BTW, I do believe you can keep Bokashi outside too. It would be worth checking with Wiggly Wigglers. 😀

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @CompostingCath: Hi CompostingCath; you are right; you DO need somewhere to dispose of bokashi contents, or it can go into a wormery. Often people with compost heaps will be more than happy to give bokashi contents a home because it helps to activate the compost 😉

    @Almost Mrs Average: Good to hear of your experiences, Mrs A. I did think of you when Ailbhe wrote about little work surface space as I remember you saying the same. It seems like you have worked out a great solution to composting in a small space; which can be really inspiring to others.

  8. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Over the winter, the Bokashi stops fermenting so outside placement is not the better option, though it would be fine from Spring to Autumn. When placing the contents in the home composter, the material should be completely covered with the usual stuff for the compost.

    I plan to empty mine this week, ready for the long winter ahead. You can still draw fluid from it for a while but this too ends. Last winter, I thought the Bokashi was faulty, but come Spring the fluid started again and it has worked fine since.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, thanks for all the info. A bokashi sounds like a compost bin then – once it gets colder it slows right down. That’s really interesting as they are usually kept inside.

  10. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    I emptied the bokashi recently to avoid the colder weather. The contents were spread over the compost and then covered with fresh material from the kitchen caddy. A thorough washing and drying completed the job and the unit has been reassembled ready for the next load. There is no rush to restart since the food waste is minimal and can sit in the freezer for a few days, placed in a large tub.

    This time the bokashi was only half full and quite light but last time, in Spring, it weighed a ton and had to be placed on a solid part of the floor. The weight was probably due to the pickling process halting during the winter months.

    With soup now started and the festive season approaching, freezer space will be used to the maximum. This means removing food waste, scraps for birds, a frozen strudel pack and any ice bottles and even bread, if necessary. I can only imagine the difficulty freezer space makes for families at this time.

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