Fifteen years ago if your household recycled its Diet Coke cans and Cheerios boxes, you were considered environmentally forward. Now, if you do not compost, you are considered lazy and wasteful.
In a city where recycling and composting are at your fingertips and events such as Green Drinks and EcoTuesday are at the forefront of social calendars, residents of San Francisco are well aware of environmental issues and sustainability. Now, environmental initiatives are clearly entering the workplace.
Composting is a great way to cut down on what goes into your trash can (and then to the dreaded landfill), but it also produces something pretty cool, especially for those environmentally aware: extremely nutrient rich soil. Until fairly recently, composting was a labor-intensive process. The compost had to be collected (smelly banana peels, old coffee grounds, the moldy pizza left in the fridge from a month ago) and piled up outdoors.
The degrading lump then needed to be manually aerated every week or so. Furthermore, outdoor composting is not an option in colder climates as cooler temperatures inhibit decomposition. Fortunately, now there are several manageable options for those busy offices looking to compost.
One option for “in-house” composting is worm bins. Essentially worm compost is made in a container filled with moistened bedding (newspaper, dried foliage, etc.) and worms. Add your food waste and the worms and microorganisms will eventually convert the entire container into rich soil. The process is extremely easy and while many may feel squeamish around a pile of 500 worms, they can be neatly tucked away, lid on. Out of sight and out of mind. Later the soil can be taken out and used for office plants or landscaping.
The other option, for offices in cities like San Francisco with municipal composting, is simply having the city pick up your food waste. In-office compost a small countertop green compost collection bin can be placed in the kitchen (with a biodegradable liner!) and scraps can be tossed in there. When full, put outside for curbside pickup. Easy!
But let’s be honest, either option means that old, and sometimes smelly, food waste may be sitting in your breakroom for a few days. And while the city provides basic countertop compost bins, they are not the best for combating those pesky fruit flies.
There is a solution! In an effort to make office composting as pleasant as possible, BlueMap has found some great alternatives. Gaiam offers a simple green plastic countertop compost bin that has built-in, activated-carbon filters to absorb odors and can also be sealed off.
For those more aesthetically inclined, Bed, Bath & Beyond has a dishwasher-safe, white ceramic container, complete with a silicone seal.
If you’re interested in learning more about what is available for those composting fiends, BlueMap Inc. recommends checking out the following compost forward companies:
BluePlanetSMART — has created a trendy looking compost contraption that increases the decomposition rate and easily rotates for aeration…meaning more soil faster and all in a stylish container.
Happy Farmer Kitchen Composter — is a complete composting system perfect for indoor use. Simply put your food waste in, cover daily with Bokashi compost starter and the system does the rest; this process prepares the scraps for burial in less than half the time of conventional composting methods without any unpleasant odors.
NatureMil PRO Composter — is a fully independent electronic composting machine. The onboard computer controls the mixing and airflow, creating nutrient rich compost every two weeks, with no odor. This electronic composter runs a bit more expensive than other composting methods, but it’s perfect for that busy office that is looking to set-it-and-forget-it.
Sharp — Available only in Japan, this composter breaks down and “digests” organic food waste at room temp with its proprietary Composting Bio Mix–a blend microbes and yeast cells, which conveniently also suppress odors while they work via Plasmacluster Ions that inactivate airborne mold and effectively clean the air in kitchen spaces.
Gaiam Kitchen Compost Bucket — This company specializes in green products. Check out their countertop compost bins for sleek alternatives.
Andrea Hart is a Sustainability Analyst at BlueMap Inc., a research firm focused on the quantification of sustainability decisions and clean tech investments for our clients. BlueMap Inc. specializes in creating profitable and innovative environmental impact reduction strategies for our clients. BlueMap’s advantage is its focus on quantitative analysis to prove which strategies concurrently lower overall costs as well as environmental impact.
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