As an apartment dweller, even one with outdoor space, I'm limited in my composting options. While we could get an outdoor compost bin, we wouldn't have anywhere to put all the compost after it was ready.
Luckily, the farmers markets here in Brooklyn collect food scraps for the Grow NYC compost program year-round. And for the past year, I've been saving my food scraps in the freezer and dropping them off each week. But my bin situtation is posing a problem.
Right now I'm using a vintage yellow Tupperware canister. But this container was never meant to live in the freezer full-time. The lid is cracked, and I'm sure the container itself won't be far behind, given how many times each day it goes in and out of the freezer.
My Composting Routine
- We reuse produce bags: In order to make removing the compost from the bin easier, and to make it easier to take it to the farmers market, we line our bin with produce bags from the grocery store. It keeps us from having to buy compostable bags (which the farmers market won't take anyway), and it helps us use those bags one more time.
- We keep our coffee grounds separate: This is a recent change. I drink a lot of coffee, and especially if I make cold brew for the week or for a weekend brunch, the grounds fill the bin up quickly. So instead, I keep the coffee grounds in an old yogurt container with holes poked in the top, and recently switched to keeping it in the fridge to absorb any smells. Plus, not having the grounds frozen makes it easier to empty them at the farmers market.
- The compost bin spends a lot of time on the counter: Generally, when prepping meals that involve any sort of produce, the bin sits on the counter until all the chopping and prepping is done. This means that the container thaws and refreezes several times a week, if not daily. That's why the vintage Tupperware isn't holding up to the challenge.
A Few Must-Haves for a New Compost Bin
- A lid that seals: Yes, we keep it in the freezer, but we don't want produce that's past its prime to stink up the freezer when we've just put it in. Plus, on the off chance the bin gets knocked over or dropped, I don't want produce scraps all over the kitchen.
- At least a one-gallon capacity: Even without the coffee grounds, it doesn't take my roommate and me very long to fill up our bin. And now that summer produce is starting to hit the markets, I have a feeling we're going to be filling it up even faster.
- No extras: So many of the countertop compost bins require you to buy charcoal filters to keep them from smelling. That's the number-one reason we keep our compost in the freezer, so we don't have to worry about that. I would prefer to buy a compost bin and be done with it. I don't want to spend extra time or money buying filters.
5 Compost Bins for the Freezer
I've been considering these five bins, but haven't yet decided on any of them for various reasons. Do you use any of these? Tell me what you like about them or why they didn't work for you.
- OXO Compost Bin, $20 from OXO
- Full Circle Happy Scrap Collector and Freezer Compost Bin, $15 from Amazon
- Odor-Free Compost Collector, $30 from The Container Store
- Kitchen Compost Collector, $64 from Wayfair
- Bamboo Compost Pail, $50 from Amazon