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Compost? But what if I live in a condo?

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Mr. Leung says his company, GreenGood Canada, plans to bring the Red Dragon composter to the Vancouver market as early as late June. It will be available through GreenGood's website at an initial retail price of $780, which will include a one-year warranty on parts and service. GreenGood aims to offer initial installation, on-going maintenance and repair services so that this is one gadget that won't end up in a landfill.   

For more information on the Red Dragon and GreenGood, see their website.

Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting refers to the use of worms in a composting process that is small-scale and reputed to be less odiferous than traditional composting, making it a viable option for balconies and patios. Basically, a colony of worms is kept in a ventilated box to which kitchen scraps are routinely layered with some type of bedding material.  The resulting product is a compost rich in worm castings that is wonderfully nutritious for houseplants and container veggie gardens. 

Since the early 1990s, the City has offered vermicomposting kits to area residents for the low, low price of $25. The kits are supplied through a partnership with City Farmer, Canada's (self-appointed) Office of Urban Agriculture, which runs the Kitsilano-based Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden. Residents interested in obtaining vermicomposting kits are required to attend a one-hour workshop at the garden to learn about the process of vermicomposting and how to care for their worms. Also included in the $25 kit fee are a how-to book, a bin the size of a file folder box, the bedding material, and 500+ red wigglers (that is, worms). 

The major drawbacks to this type of composting are that worms make some people squeamish, and that they are living creatures and care must be taken on freezing-cold nights to keep them comfortable. 

For more information, and to see the process in pictures, visit the City Farmer website or call the Compost Hotline at 604 736-2250.

Not to worry, apartment dwellers, there are other options, still.

Fermentation

Fermentation systems utilize specific microbes to quickly pre-compost organic waste without producing a foul odour. The user keeps a large bucket under the kitchen sink or out on the balcony and adds kitchen waste, layering it with a bran-based material inoculated with the microbe solution. The Bokashi method is one fermentation system that has a proponent and salesman in Al Pasternak, who promotes Bokashi composting on his blog and at the Vancouver Farmers’ Market.

The drawback to fermentation systems is that the end product is not completely broken-down and it must be added to an existing compost pile for further digestion before it’s ready to use as compost. Fermentation systems work great for folks who have access to a community garden or some other composting alternative (a friend's house, perhaps). The Bokashi bucket can hold organic waste for several weeks until it can be emptied off-site.

For those with more space

Metro Vancouver's Zero Waste Challenge aims to cut Vancouver's solid waste stream by as much as 70% by encouraging residents to reduce, reuse, and recycle. More than half (about 55%) of the city's waste is already diverted to facilities for recycling. However, up to 35% of the remaining landfill-bound waste is organic material that would easily biodegrade if given a chance to breathe. 

The City of Vancouver stepped in to help by creating The Food Scraps Collection program to collect and compost organic material and kitchen waste produced by its residents. With the new program, homeowners or renters who already have curbside yard waste collection can now add raw food scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and tea bags to their yard trimmings bin.

Although the City is just now joining other North American municipalities (including Port Moody and Port Coquitlam) in instituting its city-wide composting program, it has been encouraging residents to compost kitchen waste on their own property for the last 20 years. Backyard composting still presents the most efficient and economical solution to the problem of organic waste because it eliminates pick-up and transportation costs and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with large collection trucks. 

If you have the space and are not yet composting your own kitchen scraps, you can obtain up to three black plastic compost bins per household at a subsidized price of just $25 (comparable models retail for upwards of $100) at the Vancouver South Transfer Station located at 377 Kent Avenue North. Just remember to take your proof of residence with you. 

For more information on backyard composters, visit the City of Vancouver website.

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