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How To | Start a Compost Bin at Home

By Terence Poh

 
Marisa Xin
 

As a nutritionist, presenter and sustainability advocate, Charlotte Mei has forged a healthy relationship with food. On her Youtube channel, the self-taught cook creates videos documenting thoughtful yet fuss-free recipes — from vegan-friendly dishes to fusion cuisine that pay tribute to her part-French, part-Asian heritage — and tips on living life sustainably in the city.

To further reduce food waste, Charlotte began composting leftover food and ingredients this year. She adopted the bokashi method, a gradual process which ferments organic matter — including fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, raw and cooked meat — using bacteria and yeast in an anaerobic environment. The resulting compost, or “pickle", and liquid runoff is then mixed into soil and used as fertiliser for her home garden.

Early practices of composting were created to foster healthy, productive soil by recycling kitchen and garden waste. Traditionally, the process is conducted in a pit, where the input materials decompose, but that requires one to own a sizeable garden or backyard. In the land-starved, urban city of Singapore, where most Singaporeans reside in densely packed high-rise buildings, living spaces are spread almost entirely indoors. Here, composting is hardly practised.

But now, Charlotte demonstrates how she composts her kitchen scraps for our T at Home series entirely indoors using the Bokashi method. She creates a compost bin from her apartment, turning leftover food — otherwise discarded — into fertiliser for her home garden.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Start From the Comforts of Your Home

Materials needed:

  • Urban Composter bin
  • Compost Accelerator spray
  • A masher
  • One piece of kitchen paper
  • Food scraps

A vessel with airtight lid and drainage system is required to harbour the compost in an oxygen-deprived environment. Charlotte uses the Urban Composter Kit from The Green Collective. The 15-litre bucket is airtight to accommodate the anaerobic system and prevent odour and pests. The kit also includes a refillable bottle of the Compost Accelerator, a citrus-based organic spray containing microbes, molasses, water, fermented fruits, minerals and antioxidants to kickstart the composting process and further neutralize odours. Available online for home delivery, the full kit contains all the fundamentals you'll need to start composting from your home. 

Create Your Own Compost Bin

1. Start by lining the base of the container with a sheet of kitchen paper to prevent any food scraps from blocking the drainage.

2. Add in food scraps. Then, spray with the Compost Accelerator and shut the bin tightly.

3. With each addition of any material, spritz on the Compost Accelerator and press the mixture down tightly with a masher. Once the bin is full, let it sit for about four to six weeks to ferment.

A liquid runoff forms during the process. Switch on the tap and drain the “bokashi tea” into a container to avoid drowning the fermentation. Before it oxidises, dilute the harvested fluid with water and sprinkle it immediately over soil to allow your home plants to absorb the nutrients captured in the liquid.

Generate Healthy, Productive Soil

After the fermentation process, transfer the fermented pickle into a separate bin filled with soil, sandwiching it between two layers of soil. Let it sit for another four to eight weeks. This leads to the complete breakdown of the food scraps into compost that you can then use as fertiliser in your garden.