Two days before I became vegan, I watched Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, and Earthlings in rapid succession. My fact-finding missions are often cram sessions, from breezing through five travel memoirs in a few weeks, to reading thirty tabs worth of related Wikipedia articles in one evening. So when I suddenly craved some environmental impact education over a weekend in December, I watched No Impact Man, Tapped, and Bag It.
Each of the documentaries was fascinating, if not positively horrifying (re: our plastic usage), but what stuck out the most was that Colin and his family composted all of their food waste in No Impact Man. They did so by using soil and live worms in an everyday, clear plastic bin. It bred flies and smelled, well, exactly how you’d imagine pounds of rotting food would. But the concept of indoor composting intrigued me, and I thought that in New York City, home of Mother Nature’s I-wear-washable-maxi-pads-I-buy-on-Etsy hipster offspring, surely there must be other, odor-free options.
A few minutes of googling later, I found Vokashi. It’s a Brooklyn-based company that employs a Japanese method of fermenting waste without air and uses the compost at community gardens around the city. My roommate and I agreed that we were more than happy to pay the $40 a month for Vokashi to arm us with a thick-lidded, recyclable bucket (and bran to layer in with every few inches of waste) and pick it up and replace it with an empty one once a month.
I used to feel guilty when I lacked the appetite for a leftover dish or produce grew mold before I could eat it — with a Jewish grandma, who wouldn’t. Now I don’t have to feel bad for discarding otherwise edible food, along with orange peels, asparagus bottoms, and coffee grounds. I’m saving food from biodegrading sadly in a landfill to no human or polar bear’s benefit, one bucket at a time!
As a dutiful recycler already, now I’m sure that I throw away much, much less than the 4.43-pound-per-day national average. Although I still fish through our trash to pick out the food that my roommate haphazardly tosses in there—whereas I will drain the brine from a pickle jar with glee, just to retain the peppercorn and dill seeds for the bucket—it’s been a successful first month using Vokashi. Now that I’ve adopted this apartment composting lifestyle, I hope to move on to reducing purchases of single-serving packaging and things that come in non-recyclable plastic containers, frequenting greenmarkets more often (with my loyal Cath Kidston tote), and (buying and then) remembering to bring a Clean Kanteen coffee mug with me for Starbucks runs.