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Tips for Urban Composting Without Smells... Flies or Pests

When done properly, you can compost your food waste without smells, flies — or pests. (Photo: Flickr/JamieMcCaffrey) When done properly, you can compost your food waste without smells, flies — or pests. (Photo: Flickr/JamieMcCaffrey)

It's Earth Friendly Friday on my blog... and did you know that composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually… or your washing machine produces in three months?

For city-dwellers or those living in large… congested apartment buildings… keeping things clean in the kitchen is likely a top concern. Sure… you want to divert your organic waste from landfills… but not at the expense of inviting unwelcome critters into your building or living space.

Some municipalities will provide you with a designated kitchen pail for organics… while others will ask you to use your own sealable container.

No matter what you use… these simple steps from Earth 911 will help you nix odors and keep pest problems at bay.

1. Seal it

If your city does not provide a designated kitchen pail for food scraps, choose a sealable container and keep the lid tightly closed at all times to prevent odors and nuisance pests like fruit flies.

If you notice odors coming from your kitchen pail, cleaning it often and sprinkling a bit of baking soda inside should neutralize the smell.

2. Bag it

If putting food scraps directly into your kitchen pail makes your skin crawl a bit, you're certainly not alone.

In a follow-up survey conducted by the city of Chittenden, Vermont, after piloting a curbside organics program, almost two-thirds of households provided with compostable liner bags for kitchen pails indicated that they would not be willing to participate in a permanent program without liners. Other cities, including Seattle and Portland, encourage residents to use certified compostable bags to line kitchen pails if it makes them feel more comfortable.

To avoid placing organics directly in your pail, line it with a certified compostable bag — such as Ziploc® Brand Compostable Food Storage Bags — and toss the whole thing in your organics cart when full. Just make sure your local program accepts both food scraps and compostable bags before using liners.

3. Freeze it

To skip the kitchen pail altogether… try collecting food scraps in a sealable bag and placing it in the refrigerator or freezer until collection day.

If your city accepts certified compostable bags… such as Ziploc® Brand Compostable Food Storage Bags… use one of these options to save yourself a step. When collection day comes… simply toss your chilled-out bag directly in the curbside bin for easy organic waste diversion without the mess.

1. Get smart about storage
Store your roll-away organics cart in a cool… dry place…and keep it out of direct sunlight. This simple tip, coupled with keeping the lid of your cart completely closed and locking it shut when possible… will take care of most pesky critters like flies… rodents and other pests.

If you live in a rural area where wildlife like raccoons… possum or bears may be present, keep your carts in a locked enclosure — such as a shed or garage — until you're ready to put them out on the curb. While you're at it… make sure to keep your cart properly maintained and ensure it is free of holes that may give pests access to your food scraps.

2. Keep it clean
Wash your cart with warm water and a biodegradable detergent after each use to deter pests and neutralize odors.

If you notice flies or other critters around your compost, wipe your cart lid with citronella or tea tree essential oils (which are natural insect repellents) or add moth balls (known to deter rodents and other animals). If your green cart develops a funky smell, baking soda should do the trick — just like it does indoors.

3. Take it out
Waiting until your bin is full before setting it out for pick-up only gives insects and other pests more time to set up a new home. Place your bin on the curb before each pick-up… even if it is not full.

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