Apartment Compost Solution: How to Compost If You Live in An Apartment

Apartment life comes with a lot of restrictions. You can’t just jump up and build a deck. You can’t change the color of your walls. And, worst of all, you probably don’t have a large backyard (if you even have one at all). However, with a little bit of creativity, you can still do some of the things that people do in big backyards. Take composting, for example. Most people would scoff at the idea of doing such a thing inside of an apartment, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s easier than you think. Composting is a great way to cut down on waste and contribute to a cleaner planet. So what is the best apartment compost solution?

If you want to compost inside your apartment, follow this step-by-step plan:


apartment compost solution


Find a Size-Appropriate Compost Bin

Your compost bin needs to be proportionate to the size of your place and the number of people in your home. More people will create more compostable waste. The ideal bin will be big enough to hold the amount of waste your family produces in two or three days. 

What the bin is made of is also important. Most people opt for plastic because it’s convenient, cheap, and plentiful. It’s also non-porous (which seals the odors in), and it’s easy to clean.

You can make your own bin by simply reusing any old container. Many people choose to use a gallon ice cream tub or empty coffee container. You also have the option of purchasing a compost container designed specifically for indoor use.

Find a Compost Bin for Outside

Once your indoor bin is full, it must then be transferred to an outdoor bin. The best outdoor compost bins allow for airflow to reach the waste inside. This helps with the composting process. You must also put this bin in the right place. Because you’re in an apartment complex, you should be considerate of your neighbors and put them in an area that is out of the way.

The people in your building or complex might want to join in, so consider making it a community compost pile. It’s a great way to meet and befriend your neighbors!

As with your indoor compost bin, you can buy or build your own outdoor one. Because of pests and other complications that can occur once the waste goes outside, your best bet is probably to buy one with a strong seal. The last thing you want is for your balcony or the community patio to end up covered in the compost!

Start Collecting Compost-Safe Food

Alright, now that you have your bins ready to go, it’s time to start collecting compostable items!

This is a list of good foods to add to your bin:

  • Raw or cooked fruits
  • Raw or cooked veggies
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Teabags
  • Bread
  • Herbs and spices
  • Pasta, rice, or other grains

There are some foods that should not go into the compost, especially in an apartment. These include dairy, seafood, and meats, which all attract too many pests. 

You can also add non-food items to your compost, including:

  • Cardboard
  • Paper towels
  • Newspaper
  • Houseplants
  • Grass clippings
  • Paper plates

Keep Your Compost Even

For compost to turn into healthy, black soil, you want to keep your green-to-brown ratio correct. 

Greens are the foodstuffs you added to your compost, like banana peels and vegetable scraps. Too much of this stuff makes it wet and stinky. This is also the source of nitrogen for your compost.

Browns are the dry, dense additions to your compost. This includes things like dried leaves, newspaper, and cardboard. These items are the compost’s source of carbon, but too many of them can dry the mixture out.

The optimal formula for compost is two parts green, one part brown.

It can be difficult to find enough browns, but if you regularly compost your toilet paper rolls, paper towels, and all other paper waste, you won’t have any problem at all keeping this ratio. 

Aeration is Crucial

Every week, stir the outside compost bin to bring the decomposed materials up to the top. You can do this with a shovel or a pitchfork.

If you buy a tumbling compost bin to place outside, just a simple turn of the tumbler will do this for you.

With a few weeks, you’ll notice your compost turning into what looks like potting soil. Warmer climates will speed up the process, and cold weather will slow it down.

Use This Healthy Soil 

Once your compost has become rich soil, you can use it for both indoor and outdoor gardening.

If you don’t have plants of your own, you can donate your compost to a local garden. Compost is one of the richest sources of nutrition for plants, so they’ll be happy to take it off your hands.

It might seem strange, but you can also give it to your green-thumbed friends or relatives. Plant-growers always appreciate some good dirt!


As messy as composting can get, you don’t need acres of land to do it successfully. Follow this no-fail plan and you’ll be able to compost anywhere, even if you live in a tiny apartment!


Author bio

Karen Lein is the general manager of Copper Beech at San Marcos and Grove San Marcos. She is a Fresno State alumni and enjoys traveling and watching football. #GoDogs!


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