Composting Gets Easier for City-Dwellers

Americans waste 40 percent of the country's annual food supply, according to a study published by the Public Library of Science Journal last month.

This figure accounts for waste in the entire food supply – from fields and factories to the moldy leftovers in your fridge. But looking strictly at the food we buy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that we waste about one pound per person per day.

Composting is a natural solution to food waste. Homeowners with backyards need only carve out a little space to dump or bury food scraps. But city dwellers, whose outdoor experiences are limited to public parks and tar-blotched roofs, have traditionally had few options.

Over the last couple years, however, increasingly sophisticated (read: odorless) ways of composting inside your home have been introduced. Here are a few options:

  • The top-rated indoor composter company is Nature Mill, whose electrically-powered products grind food waste into houseplant-friendly fertilizer without causing a stink. Made of recycled polypropylene, NatureMill composters are slim enough to fit inside a kitchen cabinet and can process 120 pounds of food waste per month. The NatureMill XE Series, which debuted last October, ranges in price from $299-$399, and is already garnering positive reviews.
  • If you have a place to take your compost, you might like the Ceramic Compost Keeper by Norpro (pictured above). Ranging from $45-$70, the composter has charcoal air filters that effectively remove odor and is by far the best-looking option on the market. That said, the Compost Keeper needs to be emptied every few days, and customers complain about its slippery handle and popularity with fruit flies.
  • The All Seasons Indoor Composter, $65.99, can slide under a sink – but you might want to keep it there: Not because of the smell of rotting food, but because the mix-in "compost starter," whose microbes accelerate decomposition, is pretty pungent. That said, the Happy Farmer is praised for quickly fermenting and pickling food scraps.
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