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Composting is an essential practice for eco-friendly, zero-waste living. If you’re new to composting and live in a condo, starting this sustainable habit need not be daunting.
How do you compost when you live in a condominium with other people? If you’re a condo dweller who is looking for ways to compost in your apartment, you’ve come to the right place.
This ultimate guide to Bokashi composting features five top tips straight from the mouths of condo residents who have successfully completed the process in their homes.
One such resident is Claire of the Acacia Estates, who not only managed to compost in her own condo but also introduced the method to her local condo community.
By partnering with Jewel, one of the Property Managers of the Acacia Estates, and Bokashi Pinoy, Claire was able to encourage 20 of her neighbors to practice Bokashi composting.
If Claire can do it, you can do it, too! Learn how to do Bokashi composting by following her simple and sustainable eco-friendly tips on how to get it done.
Bokashi Composting vs. Traditional Composting
This may beg the question: why bother with composting, to begin with?
According to Claire, this whole process helps divert trash away from our landfills. In doing so, we can avoid rendering food waste totally non-viable for use in the environment. She adds that in the long run, practicing composting helps residents become more mindful and accountable for the waste they produce.
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Usually, with traditional composting methods, aerobic bacteria are needed to break down specific types of food waste in a composting bin situated at a designated outdoor storage area.
However, in the process, an unpleasant odor is sure to result from the rotting food which, understandably, can bother other residents.
With Bokashi composting, on the other hand, you can reduce the undesirable smell by using anaerobic bacteria to break down a wider range of food waste, including dairy, meats, and cooked food. Likewise, this method does not require as much monitoring or turning, unlike traditional composting.
The benefits of Bokashi composting
One of the best benefits of Bokashi composting is that it can be done on a smaller scale, making this an ideal method for eco-warriors residing in a limited space.
Additionally, the Bokashi composting technique opens the opportunity for you to reach out to other composters. Composting encourages you to discuss condo gardening with other like-minded residents. And, before you know it, these interactions begin to turn into close-knit and lasting relationships, just like what happened to Claire and the #GreenestCommunity.
The Five Stages of Bokashi Composting
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Below are the five simple steps you can follow to find success as a first-time Bokashi composter:
1. Collect food waste
Claire says you can collect “raw fruits and vegetables, [food] scraps, and cooked food” then store these in your compost bin. Note that you’ll have to properly segregate these different types of food waste.
To do so, Claire uses separate collection tubs to store and segregate her food wastes. She uses one tub for fruits and vegetables and another for cooked leftovers. Over time, these tubs become full, she then proceeds to the next step below.
2. Fill and seal the buckets
In a clean, empty trash bin or bucket, layer the food waste with Bokashi bran, then seal it with an airtight lid.
Claire says that sealing the waste is key to the fermentation process, to help encourage anaerobic bacteria growth. As a pro tip, she recommends occasionally pouring in small quantities of activated effective microorganisms (EM) – which usually comes with the Bokashi composting set – and molasses, to help speed up the breakdown process.
She also recommends getting a bin with a spigot that will allow you to drain out the liquid that would gather at the bottom of your bin. This liquid, referred to by the composting community as “Bokashi tea,” can be used as a liquid fertilizer (diluted in water) for your houseplants. In its concentrated form, it can even be used to “unclog drains,” according to Claire.
3. Burying the Bokashi-treated food waste
After your kitchen waste ferments for about two weeks, open your bins and bury their contents in the soil, along with dried leaves and twigs.
Incidentally, this was how Claire benefited from her condo community. When she started her compost journey, she sourced out dried leaves by talking to her condo’s PMO. Now, she works with Jewel to engage other Acacia Estates residents by combining the residents’ waste and the estate’s resources.
Store your compost mix in large bins on your balcony if you don’t have access to open, outdoor space.
4. Wait for some composting to happen
At this stage, it’s time to exercise utmost patience. Depending on the number of scraps you’ve collected, you’ll have to wait anywhere from two weeks to a month for your compost (a.k.a. “black gold”) to be ready.
5. Harvest the fruits of your labor
Rejoice! Your patience is about to pay off. It’s time to harvest and collect your first compost. Well done!
Claire mentions that harvesting “closes the loop” of your zero-waste journey.
Use your compost to grow your own food, then use the scraps to create a new batch of compost. You could even share your compost with farmers or urban gardeners within your condo community
Now that you have a good idea on how simple this five-stage process is to execute, why not put this on your next weekend to-do list and jumpstart your zero-waste lifestyle?
If you’re looking for more advice on Bokashi composting in the Philippines, below are some bonus tips from Claire and Jewel:
Tips for Bokashi composting in a condo
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1. Start small and keep at it.
This, perhaps, is the most important tip that Claire has to offer. Encouraging yourself to achieve small tasks every day in your compost journey will eventually develop into a good habit. In turn, you can pass this on to other residents, the way she did.
When Claire posts about composting in their Facebook Messenger community group, she doesn’t pressure other members to follow in her footsteps. Instead, she would gently encourage them to get into the zero-waste lifestyle as a life-changing urban experience.
2. Connect with your condo community for support.
According to Jewel, Claire’s journey encouraged other residents to ask about the pick-up of recyclable materials, community gardening, and other similar activities.
This engagement prompted Acacia Estates to make the switch towards a sustainable lifestyle for all its residents.
Photo courtesy of DMCI Homes
Simply put, engaging in Bokashi composting with your community encourages everyone to be accountable for their waste. For Claire and Jewel, the zero-waste life is always best lived with your friends in your condo community.
Live your best zero-waste life with Claire and Jewel! Visit the Acacia Estates for more information on their condo community projects.