Thinking about Composting in an Apartment? Here’s what you need to know

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Are you looking for great new ways to practice sustainability and reduce your kitchen waste? If so composting might be just right for you.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, food waste is the leading material category being placed in municipal landfills. 

You’ve probably heard all about composting in your backyard, but if you live in an apartment, you might think composting isn’t something you can do. Just because you don’t have a backyard, doesn’t mean you can’t compost.

Composting is in fact something anyone can do, even if you live in an apartment.  

In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about composting in your apartment, but I also am including a list of the best compost bins for you to use in your apartment. Keep reading to learn more.  

Can You Have A Compost Bin In An Apartment?  

Composting isn’t just for someone with a yard or several acres.

Even people with apartments can set up a compost bin inside their apartment or even on their balcony if they have one.  

Composting doesn’t require a lot of room, making it great for apartment living. It just takes a dark and dry space, like a closet, or in a cabinet in your kitchen.

You can even have a bin on the counter. You will have to make some small changes to be a little more conscious of what you are throwing in the trash and what can be added to a compost bin.

Once you get into the habit, it is very easy to add a compost bin in your apartment.   

Some cities or towns have an organic collection bin available to take your compostables. If you are not sure if this is available in your town, contact your municipal waste department to check. 

Does Composting In Your Apartment Smell? 

Rotting food has to smell right?

And isn’t composting letting your food break down? Won’t composting make my apartment smell?

This is likely a big concern for a lot of people who are thinking about starting to compost in their apartments. No one wants a smelly apartment when guests are coming over.  

Compost actually doesn’t have much of a rotting smell, besides having a little bit of an earthy odor. It isn’t a rotting trash smell you might have noticed if you wait an extra day to take out your trash.

The reason composting doesn’t come with a strong smell is that you aren’t adding inorganic material in with the organic material that goes in compost bins.

The inorganic material includes things like plastics. This prevents the breakdown of the organic material.  Allowing the organic waste you add to the bin to break down properly will eliminate stinky smells.  

However, there are times when the compost has a displeasing smell. This often occurs when there is too much moisture in the bin. Try to keep things slightly damp, but not overly so.  

Will Composting In Your Apartment Attract Pests?  

One major concern I hear from people interested in starting a compost bin is that it could attract pests.

This is a drawback to composting, but even though it happens, the end result and the decrease in your kitchen waste going out with the trash is worth it to so many people.  

Composting whether it is inside or outdoors, can and often does attract pests.

If you are putting your compost bin on an apartment balcony or patio, you likely will have some flies buzzing around and even some pill bugs or sow bugs.

Indoors you may have to combat those tiny and extremely annoying fruit flies. You might also discover the compost bin is attracting ants and earwigs.  

In either case, these pests won’t do any harm to the compost you are creating. They are more annoying than anything.  

I have also heard people worry about other pests like raccoons, rodents or possums to name a few.

These animals aren’t trying to eat your compost, but they are often attracted to the kitchen waste you add. Make sure your bin, if it is on a balcony or patio, is secured to help keep these animals out.  

Where Should Compost Be Stored In An Apartment?

Composting In Your Apartment


A great thing about indoor composting in an apartment is that it doesn’t have to take up a lot of room. Most of the time it is easiest to keep your bin in the kitchen area.

This will be the most convenient as almost everything that will go into the bin comes from the kitchen.  

Your compost should be stored in a dry location to prevent mold from developing.

Excess water also helps create odors you don’t want in your home.  

Some people will have a compost bin on their countertop in the kitchen, but others opt for a location in a cabinet or even in a pantry.

The decision of where you want to place your bin will depend on a few things.

Do you have enough counter space?

Do you like the look of the compost bin sitting out on your counter?

Is it more convenient and easier to reach your compost bin when it is on the counter?

Once you answer these questions, it will be far easier to determine the best location for your compost bin.  

The Pros and Cons of Composting in Your Apartment 

As with most things in life, composting in your apartment comes with pros and cons.

The benefits of composting are many, but when you are trying to decide if this is something you want to do in your apartment, it is a good idea to look at the cons as well. 

The PROS of indoor composting in your apartment. 

  • Less Waste 
  • Free Fertilizer : the beauty of home composting is turning waste into great fertilizer for your garden. 
  •  Having an indoor composting bin will allow you to compost year round.
    Outdoor compost piles are hindered in the winter as the organic waste just doesn’t break down as quickly or easily in cold weather.  

The CONS of composting in your apartment.

 One of the biggest cons when it comes to composing inside your apartment is that it can be a challenge due to

  • Slow break down process 
  • Odor 
  • Space Limitations  

The indoor environment in your apartment doesn’t always offer the necessary mixture of light, water, air and microorganisms.  

Without those things, the breakdown process sometimes just doesn’t happen as well. If you have a balcony, place your compost bin there so it can get some of the natural weather to help the breakdown along. 

 If you don’t have a balcony, this doesn’t mean composting indoors is impossible, it just means you are going to have some added steps. 

Indoor composting, you have much more control when it comes to the necessary light, water, air, and microorganisms. With some outdoor composting piles, too much sunlight or rain affects the process. 

Ultimately, most of the bins you are likely to find for apartments are going to be small.

This means you should find someone who will take your kitchen scraps to add to their compost bin as you will create more scraps than you can house.

Check with your apartment complex to see about creating a community composting area. You might also find that your city has an option for organic material collection.  

How To Choose The Best Compost Bin For The Apartment?  

Choosing a compost bin requires you to take a few things into consideration.

These considerations include the size, style, material, and shape of the bin.  

First, think about how big of a bin you will want and need.

Smaller bins will require you to empty them more frequently, but if you don’t expect to have a lot of material that can be added or you are just starting out, a smaller bin might be a good idea.

If you know you will have a lot of organic material going out each week, you probably want to look for something a little bigger.

Also, consider the space you have in your apartment. If you don’t have a lot of counter space, look for a bin that can tuck neatly in a cabinet.  

The material your bin is made of is another consideration you might think of metal bins have a great sleek look, but the dampness that comes along with composting often causes these kinds of compost bins to rust.

Plastic is a great option that doesn’t rust and many of them are able to be placed in the dishwasher for cleaning.  

Also consider that some buckets have handles for easy carrying and disposal, where others don’t.

If you are constantly having to empty the contents of your bin, you might consider if a handle will make your life easier or if it isn’t necessary.  

Other things to think about when choosing a compost bin include the ventilation system.

This comes in handy if you are concerned about the possible odors that can come with composting. Some have larger ventilation holes, where others don’t have any.

There are also some bins that come with built-in replaceable charcoal filters used to eliminate odors.  

These are just some of the top considerations you should think about when you are choosing which bin is right for your apartment.  

5 Best Compost Bins For An Apartment 

Hopefully, now you are convinced that apartment composting is not only possible but also easy and a great way to support sustainability processes.

Now you’re probably asking which compost bin you should use.

So I’ll share my 5 favorite indoor compost bins that will be perfect in your apartment. 

You can easily purchase online from Amazon

  1. EPICA Stainless Steel Compost Bin 1.3 Gallon 

The first compost bin on my list is the stainless steel compost bin from EPICA.

This is ideal for small batch composting in an apartment as it is compact, with a 1.3-gallon capacity.

Small enough to fit in your apartment, but large enough to hold organic material collected over several days, and with the small size, even full it is easy to handle.

At just 11 inches high, you can fit this perfectly in the cabinet under the sink or on your counter, and the sleek stainless steel makes it attractive if you do put it on your calendar.  

With this bin, you will only be able to hold so many kitchen scraps. Some might use this bin to hold scraps until there are enough to transfer to a larger bin. 

My favorite feature is that it was designed to be odor-proof, just in case you are concerned about smells coming from the bucket. The lid is vented and comes with a charcoal filter to help eliminate any odors. The charcoal filter is easy to replace and the new filters are readily available and inexpensive.  

You don’t need any liners for this one, but you can use them if you want. Then just add your kitchen scraps and wait as they break down.  

2. Stylish Farmhouse Kitchen Compost Bin 

If you are looking for something stylish to match your decor, this might be your best choice. Not only does it match with the farmhouse aesthetic, but it is a great deal, check the current price here. This isn’t one you will want to hide under your sink.  

Like many of our other options, this compost bin also has a charcoal filter to help eliminate odors. This one has a built-in filter and comes with two more to use when the first needs to be replaced. Each filter is going to last you about three or four months.  

This compost bin has a compact size and will hold several days’ worth of kitchen scraps. This is great if you are doing small batch composting, and it is also perfect to carry scraps outside if you have a larger tumbler bin available outside.  

Besides the size and price, my favorite feature of this bin is the look. It is a great pick if you want something that you aren’t ashamed to put on your counter.  

3. KaryHome Hanging Small Compost Bin with Lid 

The KaryHome hanging compost bin is an efficient option.

If you aren’t keen on having a compost bin on your counter, or maybe you just don’t have a lot of counter space, this is the one for you.

I love that this bin comes with a hanging accessory that fits over a cabinet door.

This way you can have your compost bin neatly tucked away under the sink. Not only is it a convenient compost bin that can be hidden away, but it is a sturdy option.

You can also mount this on the wall using self-adhesive tape. As a bonus, you can choose from five different colors, to match your personality and your decor.  

This one doesn’t use any charcoal features to eliminate odors, but it has a great seal that helps eliminate smells and fruit flies that come with composting kitchen waste.  

The main drawback I found with this model is the lid. Sometimes when your hands are full of scraps, you want a lid that can be easily removed.

With this one, the lid has to be pulled off. It isn’t a major problem, just a slight inconvenience when you have your hands full.  

Also, make sure your cabinet is large enough to support having this bin inside.

The cabinet must be at least 27 centimeters from the top of the door, 26 centimeters wide and 16 centimeters deep. Another drawback, on some older cabinets, they don’t hang low enough.

Make sure you check out your cabinets and do some measuring before you purchase this one.  

4. Chef’n EcoCrock Counter Compost Bin BlackWhite 3.3 liter 

Made of ceramic, this Chef’n EcoCrock is a great countertop compost bin option.

This bin is one of the smaller options on our list, holding three liters or three-quarters of a gallon, compare to others on the list that hold over a gallon.

That means more time emptying into a larger compost bin more frequently.  

The outer bin is very eye-catching and perfect for those with a more modern style.

I really like the inner bin that is removable. That inner bin is dishwasher safe, so all the kitchen waste gets that bin dirty instead of the ceramic outer portion.

Also, because that inner bin is plastic, you don’t run the risk of the bin rusting like metal bins are prone to do.  

Like some of the others on this list, the Chef’m EcoCrock has a charcoal feature to help reduce any of those unwanted smells that you might notice coming from the bin.  

The one drawback I have found is the vent holes in this model are a bit small and moisture doesn’t escape as easily on some of the other compost bins. This can lead to mold growth.

To stop mold from developing, empty this one every few days.  

5. Joseph Joseph Compo 4 Easy-Fill Compost Bin

Unlike the Chef’n EcoCrock that I just talked about, the Joseph Joseph Compo Compost Bin has developed a great vent system.

The ventilation system in this bin allows for air to flow in and out, reducing moisture.

Without that excess moisture, you won’t have mold growing and you won’t have the smells that come with overly wet decomposing food.

Along with that great ventilation system, this bin also has an odor filter that helps trap any of the odors that might develop. 

Use a liner to help keep the inside clean, but if you don’t want to go that route, it is easy enough to clean with soap and water. 

This compost bin fits great on a kitchen counter and has a one-gallon capacity. This one also comes in three different colors. Additionally, it can be mounted to a door or wall, and it is an affordable option.  

Final Thoughts on Apartment composting

Having a compost bin in your apartment can be challenging but you will benefit from it and it’s worth trying.