A Super Simple Guide to Apartment Composting

Composting in small spaces is easier than you may think

Apartment composting can be particularly challenging given the limited space you might have available to you. But don’t worry – there are options! Happily, people are becoming more and more environmentally conscious than ever before, leading to the desire for more green, sustainable, and eco friendly solutions in everyday life. If you’re cooking at home, more often than not you have food scraps from whatever recipe you decide to whip up. Instead of throwing those scraps away and sending them to the landfill to decompose anaerobically and emit more methane into the atmosphere, you should consider starting to compost. Check out this post if you’re looking for inspiration or more tips to make your home or apartment more eco-friendly.

In this post, we hope to answer questions like: how to compost if you live in an apartment or small space? do compost bins smell? how to prevent your compost from attracting bugs? and what items shouldn’t go in your home compost?

Table of Contents

  1. What do you need to start composting in an apartment or small space?
  2. Does apartment composting attract bugs?
  3. Do Compost Bins Smell?
  4. Are there foods or home items that should not go into your home compost bin or pile?
  5. Is there a “good” time to do a compost pile?
  6. Conclusion

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Apartment composting is one example of how people are striving to be sustainable by creating organic waste disposal systems in their own homes. If you live in an apartment with limited space, this article will help show you how to create an apartment composting system.

We’ve covered composting in the past, answering why composting is an important aspect of a sustainable, zero-waste lifestyle as well as going over what common items are compostable, how to care for your compost, and why it’s a great solution for your organic waste and growing a garden. The problem is that most compost bins are too big and bulky to fit into an apartment.

Be it sticking with traditional composting in a scaled-down form, a countertop composting unit, or sending your organic waste to a local composter, you can work to reduce your waste and environmental footprint, be more eco friendly, and improve the health of your garden or indoor plants by providing them with much needed and important nutrients helping them flourish and grow.

Apartment Compost Indoor Plants

It is very rewarding when you see how well your soil and plants respond to being fertilized regularly with fresh compost made from food scraps in your kitchen. You’ll notice that your plant growth will increase dramatically as they begin to thrive on your own natural fertilizer. It is truly amazing what happens when we take care of our gardens and nature.

What do you need to start composting in an apartment or small space?

  • An Indoor Compost Bin meant for aerobic composting (typically comes with pre-placed/pre-drilled holes for airflow
  • Green Matter – think of pretty much any type of fruit or vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves, etc.
  • Brown Matter – Dead leaves, twigs, cardboard, paper
  • Water – add small amounts of water to help along the process. This isn’t completely necessary depending on what you add to the bin as some of your green matter may already contain enough moisture
  • Starter Soil – this is used to provide some microorganisms to start the composting quicker. This isn’t necessarily a requirement but will help produce faster results
  • A stirring instrument – use the stirring instrument occasionally to mix up your compost bin adding air to the composting process
  • Pick a spot for your bin – find somewhere inconspicuous and ideally out of the way. If you live in temperate climates you can leave your’s on a porch or patio. If it does tend to get colder where you live, check out a corner of the room or under a cabinet

Does apartment composting attract bugs?

When adding new green matter to your apartment compost bin, try to cover that as much as possible with brown matter or compost from lower in the bin, this will help stave off bugs.

Do Compost Bins Smell?

If you keep your compost in a well-sealed container and well-balanced with the right amount of green matter, brown matter, and moisture, your compost shouldn’t really smell aside from perhaps a slight hint of earthiness. If you pick a spot out of the way, under a cabinet, or on your porch/patio the smell should be minimal.

Are there foods or home items that should not go into your home compost bin or pile?

The following are some examples of things which do NOT belong in a compost bin:

  • Meat (including bones)
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter, cream, yogurt, ice-creams, etc.
  • Utensils marked compostable
  • Bioplastics
  • Oils or Fats
  • Cooked Foods

While it is true that these things can be composted, they typically cannot be in home composting systems – but there are exceptions. Normally, industrial composting systems are the only systems that can accommodate meat and animal products. However, there are smaller composting systems, like the Lomi, that can sit on your countertop and can compost items from meat to certain bioplastics by applying heat and grinding items down into smaller and smaller pieces. Certain compostable bioplastic items like Pela phone cases or watch bands are perfect for these types of home composting solutions.

Is there a “good” time to do a compost pile?

The answer mostly depends on when you want to use your compost. If you just need something for your garden or yard, then any time of year will work fine, you just need to make sure to give your scraps enough time to decompose into compost. In industrial applications, the composting can take a few hours to a few days but at home it typically takes several months to produce the desired results so think ahead. We continually keep a compost bin going so whenever we need to add compost to nourish our soil, we have some available.


To sum it up, apartment composting and composting, in general, is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you send to the garbage dump and, at the same time, produce some compost to enrich your soil for indoor house plants or a garden. A small indoor compost bin or one you put on your porch is easy to maintain and care for, and does not attract bugs or produce any off-putting odors. While there are things to avoid putting in your compost bin, most fruits and vegetables are fair game. If you’re looking for a robust solution that can take other items like meats or bioplastics, there are solutions for that as well!