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A Composting Guide For Apartment Living - Boston & Cities Alike

A Composting Guide For Apartment Living - Boston & Cities Alike


Composting has an array of stigmas and misconceptions, so I decided to do a bit of my own research. I went down a couple of rabbits holes because it's not frequently advertised or talked about among friends and family of mine. I used to main resources one for generic knowledge and tools which you can see here or if you live in the city of Boston you can click here to gain general information as well as learn about the Oscar project here.

Let’s Get Into The Why: Why Do We Even Have To Compost

To my surprise, 650 pounds of organic trash a year are produced on average by a United States Family. Yes, 650 pounds of trash! Out of that trash 60% of which is organic matter that lays in landfills. When people say “it will decompose its fine!” and proceed to toss trash out into the landfills they are mistaken. What I was able to learn is that the trash actually does not decompose because it's not aerated. If you are like me, naturally your next question is what does that even mean!

Aerated decomposition is a fancy word. Essentially, the organic matter we dumped into the landfill is deprived of oxygen which now creates methane. Methane is dangerous because it is 72% stronger than CO2. Now, we created a situation in which methane is deteriorating our atmosphere!

What Can You Do?

Remove the organics from your trash by… you guessed it COMPOSTING!

Help Me Compost (Click on each compost solution to non-affiliated links)

Worm Bin This is the most common form of composting indoors. Head over to Youtube where you can find tons of videos on how this method works.

Bokashi Follow the instructions on this one because this is the only composting solution I found where meat and dairy can be included. Too good to be true? check the link to see how this one works.

Electronic Composting If you want to compost without even think about it this might be the best solution for you. Turns food scraps into waste overnight.


Farmers Markets- If you happen to be a frequent farmers market shopper, simply ask them if they have a compost they wouldn't mind you contributing too. 

Community Garden Linked here is the Boston Community Garden Request Form.

City Wide Service (Boston for instance has discounted/subsidized composting solutions. See what is available in your area.)


What Can I Compost

Fruit and vegetable scraps, peelings, pits, and seeds

Eggshells and nutshells

Rice, pasta, and cereal

Bread, pastries, cookies

Coffee grounds, coffee filters


Cut or dry flowers

Napkins, paper towels, paper plates

Cardboard, takeout containers

Wine corks

Wooden coffee stirrers

Compostable plastics and bags


What Can’t I Compost?

Meat, fish, bones

Dairy products


Fats, grease, oils

Pet waste


Cigarette butts

Dryer lint, dryer sheets


Plastic Bags

More Info

A blog Small Footprint Family has a great article of 100 items you should compost from each section of your home. This will make composting in the beginning really easy, use this as a cheat sheet.

The key they use is G for more “green” items which are more nitrogenous and B is for “brown” carbonaceous you want to have a 50/50 balance between the two

A Deeper Dive into Boston

A month or so ago I received some snail mail from the city of Boston explaining the trash schedule, how and what to recycle, and then the smallest section on composting.

Project Oscar

Adorably named after the Sesame Street character Oscar, this pilot program is encouraging Boston residents to start composting residential food scraps. They’re five bins that you can drop off your waste into, 4 of which are opened 24-hours. (East Boston is the exception)

Project Oscar Quiz (click here to test your knowledge)

Bin Locations (click here for more details on these locations)

East Boston

North End


Jamaica Plain

City Hall Plaza

Leaf and Yard Waste -Here are some tips that the city provided

Place leaves and yard debris in large paper bags or open barrels labeled YARD WASTE. Do not use plastic bags

Tie branches with string. The maximum size for branches is three feet with a one-inch diameter. Do not put branches in barrels.

Please place your bags and barrels and branches curbside by 6 a.m.

If you have two recycling days each week, yard waste is on the first recycling day of the week.

Christmas Tree’s Second Life

Considering I am writing and publishing this article in April, you may think it’s premature to discuss giving your Christmas Trees a second life but have you in the past? One of my favorite memories of living in NYC is when the community would put their Christmas trees out on the sidewalk to be recycled and the streets smelled like a pine needle forest.

Christmas trees are picked up during the first two full weeks of January on your first recycling day and shredded for compost. The trees should be placed outside on the curb by 6 a.m. without ornaments or lights.


Boston Christmas tree recycle infographic



This can seem overwhelming in the beginning. Do your research and look up and see what services your city provides along which pick up schedules and helpful resources. Once you educate yourself on why it’s important, you’ll make the change on how to do it. Once you know how to do it, all it takes is implementation. Remember 21 days makes it a habit!


How will you be composting? Let us know in the comments below. If you are on Instagram tag us and include the hashtags #GreenAtHome


Photo by Del Barrett on Unsplash


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