Symbiosis is a Beautiful Thing

I think it’s time to address the icky garbagy garbage – food scraps, the most unwelcome of guests. Composting sounds wonderful, doesn’t it, giving back to the earth and all that? When I owned a house I fell madly in love with gardening. I started to redesign my outdoor space like gangbusters and was soon producing copious amounts of leaves, twigs, branches…So I began to look for a backyard composter.

At the time I had sufficient energy, space and money to consider a wide array of models. I didn’t end up getting one because life intruded and in a remarkably short span of time I didn’t have a house or a garden or a marriage for that matter. It’s all okay, but I’m living in a much more urban environment now without a garden and there are many more things to consider. I think it’s actually a convenient turn of events because I don’t want to suggest composting if it can’t be accomplished in an apartment.

The first thing I realized once I seriously began to research urban composting options is how little I really know about anything. And because I do not want to give this subject short shrift, I need to do something with my kitchen waste until I actually purchase or build some sort of apparatus. One option, and an excellent interim solution until I’m able to begin composting here, is to find someone who will take my kitchen scraps and fold them into an existing operation. You may have urban farms nearby who will take your scraps or perhaps you can find friendly, land-owning neighbors.

American Gothic

Some cities, like San Francisco, offer curbside composting. In Chicago Collective Resource will pick up compostable materials from your home or office for a small fee.

My scraps will go into the freezer until they get too big to keep there. This will prevent them from emitting fumes until I’m ready to drop them off. My freezer is some seriously over crowded real estate so I have to utilize vertical space.


A smallish food container that can be turned anywhichway works really well. If you’re up against the wall space-wise you could use a plastic baggy and reuse it and reuse it and reuse it.

Back to composting. From the very little bit I know so far I feel that I have to warn you: there are worms involved. Unless you plan to have your compost composting for months on end, you’ll need a little help. They may look gross, but these itty bitty critters find little more appetizing than what you would think of as rotting garbage. Symbiosis is a beautiful thing.

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