People are doing a lot of things from home lately. Have you considered composting from home?
Not just in the backyard — but in your home?
Composting can help mitigate our daily production of greenhouse gases. When organic material that’s compostable ends up in landfills, it’s broken down in an oxygen-deprived process called "anaerobic decomposition." Anaerobic decomposition generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas, which also stinks. Landfills are some of the largest emitters of methane in the U.S.
Preventing food scraps from going into landfills can help reduce your personal greenhouse gas contributions.
Composting with oxygen-guzzling microorganisms is less stinky and converts food waste into nutrient-rich compost for your garden or soil. You can also do it inside your home.
I’ve successfully done backyard composting, but I had never considered bringing the process indoors. Then a friend of mine in Japan casually mentioned that he does indoor composting. I learned that some other friends of mine, who also live in Japan, compost in their homes.
All of them generally use the same method — a large cardboard box; coco peat, made from coconut husks; and rice husk ash. Rice husk ash is used commonly in Japan to improve soil health. It's not as common in the U.S., so you can use horticultural ash, such as hardwood ash.
The two compounds help promote bacterial growth that breaks down organic material, and the ash absorbs excess moisture.
Use about three parts coco peat and two parts ash. Most people I know use cloth or a tea towel to cover the box.
The cardboard box is a must. Materials such as plastic or metal don’t breathe and allow oxygen into the container. You'll end up with anaerobic decomposition, which isn’t a smell you want inside your home. Keeping a cover on the container will help prevent attracting flies and other critters. An extra layer of corrugated cardboard at the bottom helps reinforce it in case it does accumulate too much moisture. However, adding a bit of extra ash can help prevent that.
A large box — such as ones used to hold 20 pounds of office paper or large file boxes — can process about 1 1/2 pounds of food scraps per day. Stir frequently. If you’re doing it right, it will give off a nice, earthy aroma.
John Molseed is a tree-hugging Minnesota transplant making his way through his state parks passport. This column is a space for stories of people doing their part (and more) to keep Minnesota green. Send questions, comments and suggestions to email@example.com.