life in a tiny apartment.

April 3, 2012


Tip #8: Compost.

{warning: this post is not glamorous. for flowers, see here}.
okay. you might be curious about why this would help you survive in a tiny apartment, but trust me.
our apartment has room for one, tiny garbage can. i’m fairly certain that some people own garbage cans bigger than our entire apartment, but that’s neither here nor there. our {tiny} trash receptacle is shoved into a cabinet and emptying it involves pulling the can out of the depths of the cabinet and wrestling the dustpan, brushes, and laundry detergent we’ve also stashed away. the process is always good for a curse or two. if we throw our egg shells and onion peels into that tiny thing, after just a few hours the process is near to unbearable. ripe is a nice word for the odor that wafts out. 
i know compost is often equated with country-dwelling, earthy-types, but city slickers can join the fun, too! we fill a bag in our freezer with carrot greens and strawberry hulls and, yes, even our tea leaves. freezing the scraps mean they don’t smell, and from someone scarred by compost memories involving her grandmother and a certain mustard yellow tupperware container kept on the counter, the freezer is where it’s at.
nyc greenmarkets have an awesome compost service.* we bring our frozen bag down to them each week, pop a dollar or two in their donation jar and go on our merry way. and that garbage can? let’s just say it stays put for much longer. peace for everyone.
what about you guys? do you compost?
*enlightened cities, like san francisco, actually require the practice. imagine that.

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  • Reply Rebecca April 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Well I never.. I've learnt something new today! Thanks for the tip; I'll give it a go.

  • Reply bigBANG studio April 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I'm adopting your method TODAY. I also have the tiniest little garbage can in our tiny little Brooklyn kitchen (goodbye, giant SimpleHuman foot-operated trash can from our enormous Joshua Tree kitchen!) and the freezer-bag of compostables is genius. xo

  • Reply Julie [FerociousOstrich] April 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I just started a compost bin on my fire escape, and so far, so good. Putting scraps in the freezer is a fabulous idea, though, and I hadn't thought of finding a compost service in our area. I might just look for one now.

  • Reply Alexa April 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    i've been mulling over this idea lately…thanks for such a timely post!

  • Reply Linda Zimmerman April 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    you cut the crust off your bread? homemade breadcrumbs!

    • Reply Erin April 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      only for special recipes! we've got a whole jar of breadcrumbs!

  • Reply Norma April 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I have plenty of yard space but I love the freezer idea then making a trip down to the composter. Thanks!

  • Reply Carrie April 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Sigh. I have SUCH good compost intentions. One day I'll get there.

  • Reply Dana April 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I live in San Francisco, so composting is easy here, but I go one step further and keep certain food scraps to make homemade vegetable stock. I keep these in a baggie in the freezer and make stock once every two weeks or so. Things like onion scraps (although skins give the stock color), carrot peelings, celery ends, etc go in the stock bag, as well as other neutral veggie scraps (things like broccoli, cabbage, etc may be excluded, as they tend to have a strong flavor). Just simmer with a bay leaf and a small handful of peppercorns for a few hours and you've got the best soup base you've ever had. We also freeze extra in 4-cup increments in freezer bags.

    • Reply Erin April 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      we do that, too, though not as a rule. good idea to keep a bag going!

  • Reply Nicole April 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Luckily for us, we have a compost pile in our backyard. It's the best thing ever! And great for our gardens!

  • Reply Kari Desi April 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Brilliant idea! I used to compost when I had a backyard, but now I live in a teeny tiny apartment too (complete with the wrestling and the cursing-LOL). I've been trying to figure out a better way after trying a couple of things that just didn't work. Thanks for the tip!!

  • Reply Rachel April 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't compost and I feel terrible about it. It was just standard growing up, but I haven't figured out how to make it work in our apartment and our freezer is always so crowded that I'm loathe to give up the space. This is on the list of things to figure out that I never seem to get around to.

    *hanging my head in shame*

  • Reply watsonshop April 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I also use the fridge for composting. But sometimes an accidental spill happens and I curse quite a bit.

  • Reply I'm Keegan Osinski April 3, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    My boyfriend sent me a link to this post today, saying "Our compost practices are affirmed!" We do something very similar–keep a large-ish (half gallon, maybe?) tupperware in the freezer for scraps, and then periodically take it to our workplace, which has a spectacular composting program. It works out great for everyone! 🙂

  • Reply Kamana April 4, 2012 at 3:07 am

    wow. that is a great way to keep the smells at bay.

  • Reply laura April 4, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    We have a revolving composter in our garden, but keep the scraps in the freezer in old (large) yogurt containers – I learned this trick when my roommate and I had old broccoli to go down to our college's CSA compost – broccoli waft is Ripe!!

  • Reply sweet harvest moon April 5, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Great post!

  • Reply JCrain3 April 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    You could try a worm bin. They take care of the composting for you and it doesn't smell. Something you could keep tucked away in your cabinets to save space (they like the dark too)

    • Reply Erin April 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      hoorah for vermicomposting. unfortunately, this space is far too tiny!

  • Reply fannytje April 6, 2012 at 8:14 am

    what a great idea! never thought of freezing my natural waste. will start from now on. but what to do with it after… I dont know any place that will take my left overs I live in amsterdam (NL). any ideas?
    could anyone recommend a website for finding out about vermicomposting? Thanks!!

  • Reply Cindy April 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    we belong to a community garden, which is designated as a composting center. i love the idea of putting a bag in the freezer in between trips.

  • Reply Abby April 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Our farmer's market collects compost, but until now I hadn't thought of how to save scraps all week. Thanks for the freezer tip–genius!

  • Reply Aimee June 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Awesome! I do the same thing – keep a brown paper bag in my freezer and drop it off at Whole Foods every week or so.

  • Reply Green Tree Boutique September 11, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    What a great idea! We also like Sunwood Life's Bokashi Compost Kit.

  • Reply Teagan January 20, 2014 at 1:25 am

    Thankyou for sharing this tip. After living in my new unit for the past six months, I have realised the 'ripe' smell coming from my small bin. This is a great idea to solve that, and great for the environment too 🙂

  • Reply emma summer February 14, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    {slaps forehead} the freezer! of course!

  • Reply Breanna Marie October 19, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Hey Erin! Any updates on your composting habits? I’m thinking of beginning a pile as I now have a garden and lots of coffee grounds!

    • Reply Erin Boyle October 19, 2016 at 11:57 am

      No updates! Same routine we’ve been doing for the past five years or so! Save in the freezer; bring to the farmers’ market on the weekend.


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