What is Urban Compost?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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Urban compost is compost which is prepared in an urban environment. Many people associate compost with rural locations or large composting facilities, but in fact people can and do compost in urban locales. Some cities actually encourage composting as a way of keeping food scraps and similar material out of the waste stream, thereby cutting down on the amount of garbage generated by the city. In fact, waste management agencies will sometimes give out composting equipment for free when people request it.

People sometimes have trouble conceiving of composting in the city because they assume that space is required for composting, that composting must be done outdoors, and that compost stinks. Actually, none of these things are necessarily true. Some composting units are extremely small, fitting on a countertop or under the sink, for example, although they may not be able to handle a high volume of composting. Composting can also be done indoors, and in fact in cold climates, it is better to compost indoors during the winter. Finally, well tended compost should not stink, although it can have an earthy aroma at times.


Those involved in urban composting can use small compost bins specifically designed for urban compost, or they can make their own. The goal is usually to activate compost and keep it working quickly so that it processes rapidly. Many urban compost bins spin or rotate so that people can easily aerate their compost, and some come with compost activators which can be added to jumpstart the composting process.

People can also engage in activities like vermicomposting in the city. This approach to composting uses worms to break down compost material quickly and efficiently. The resulting dirt is also filled with nutrient-rich worm castings which can be beneficial for plants. Some households may pool their compost together, as for example when people share a yard behind their building. This can also be convenient for compost care as people can split responsibilities for their urban compost pile.

The biggest problem with urban compost is what to do with the compost when it's ready. While compost can be applied to landscaping, plants in rooftop and stairwell gardens, and so forth, too much compost can actually be bad for plants. People can also use compost tea for nutrient-rich watering, if they feel thus inclined. Some urban composters donate their excess to community gardens or friends who can use a little compost.



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