Organic waste options for apartments, townhouses and condos
By: Laura Stern, Waste Reduction Coordinator
You may be hesitant to participate in the Zero Waste Challenge because you live in an apartment, townhouse or condo without composting services.
We have suggestions to help you! Several of them are also ideas that you could use regularly to minimize your impact on the environment and live sustainably.
Here are our top five suggestions
- Zero Waste Challenge green bin drop off stations
Throughout the duration of the Zero Waste challenge, Reep Green Solutions will be offering public green bin drop off stations. These stations will include a green bin that anyone is welcome to empty their organic waste into. Volunteers will maintain these stations and assure they are emptied at least once a week. Green bin stations can be conveniently found uptown Waterloo and downtown Kitchener at;
- Reep House for Sustainable Living: 20 Mill Street, Kitchener (Located on the front porch).
And University of Waterloo students and faculties have access to several Campus Compost locations.
Vermicomposting is ideal for indoor composting because it creates very little mess and no odor, if done correctly. This method uses various types of earthworms to convert your organic waste into nutrient rich fertilizer. To get started with vermicomposting all you need is a large bin (such as a Rubbermaid bin) and some earthworms. Earthworms are different than other worms because they can process organic waste much faster. They are most productive when living at room temperature, thus they thrive in an indoor environment.
Setting up a vermicomposting station in your home is simple. First line your bin with a bedding of shredded paper. Then introduce the earthworms. Scraps from most fruits and vegetables can be added to feed the worms. Food scraps should be added to the bin regularly to keep up with the worm’s appetite. If too much food is added, the bin will begin to smell. If not enough food is added, the worms will die.
The worms require moisture in order to breath. It is important to maintain a moist, but not drenched environment. Regularly adding food scraps should be sufficient to maintain the moisture levels, otherwise a spray bottle can be used to dampen the worms bedding. It is recommended to poke small holes into the top and bottom of the bin. This will allow oxygen to enter the composter and excess liquids to drain out. Place a tray or second bin under the vermicomposter to collect these excess liquids.
Earthworms are herbivores. No meat or dairy products should be added to the vermicomposter. Most fruits and vegetables are okay to add to the composter. Citrus foods such as oranges, limes and lemons should not be added as the worms will not break them down. Onions and hot peppers should also remain out of the composter.
Vermicomposting requires very little effort or maintenance. It is an excellent solution to any apartment dweller’s composting needs.
- Ask a friend or family member
If worms aren’t your thing and you can’t make it to any of the drop off stations mentioned above, there are still options to compost your organic waste. Try speaking to a friend, family member or neighbour who does not live in a multi-residential building. Most residents would be happy to have you add your organic waste to the contents of their green bin since they are interested in reducing our community’s impact on the environment.
- Visit the waste transfer stations
The Region of Waterloo waste transfer stations will accept organic waste and compost it for a small fee. Dropping your waste off directly at the landfill costs $3.90 for 100g or a minimum rate of $5.00. In Cambridge, go to 201 Savage Drive and in Waterloo, go to 925 Erb Street West, Waterloo. Organic waste can be dropped off during business hours Monday- Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Talk to your building manager and start a composting program
If you have been searching for a way to compost within your building, it is likely your neighbours have been as well! We recommend speaking to your neighbours and establishing if your building has a demand for composting services. If your neighbours are also longing to compost their organic waste, bring it up to your building manager. It is possible your building manager has no idea that composting is a concern of its residents and may arrange it if they know demand exists.
Help us help you
Reep Green Solutions is aware of the growing number of people living in apartments, townhouses and condos in Waterloo Region. We are concerned about the lack of composting service for them so we are currently in the planning stages of a pilot service.
We will soon have a survey about the proposed service, let us know if you are interested in participating.