Replace Your Garbage Disposal with Bokashi Bucket Composting

Bokashi composterThe greenness of a building element isn’t always clearly defined. Garbage disposals are one example. Florida Green Building Coalition gives points in their new home plan for not installing one (See Section 2). Others say, in comparison to landfilling your banana peels, a bit of power and water is an efficient way to deal with non-meat food wastes. However, it seems that those ‘bits’ of power and water do add up:

“Hilton San Francisco, the largest hotel on the West Coast, removed all of its garbage disposal units in 2002, and Jo Licata, community projects manager, says it has made a big difference in mechanical and water expense.” (SF Chronicle)

So what are the alternatives? Can a single user without the ability to compost in the traditional pile way still do the ultimate recycling – turn food waste back into food?

There’s a lot of proponents of worm farming, and in temperate climates, I’d have to stand in that camp too. Personally, my wormery dried out in our long, hot summer, and I haven’t got back in that saddle since. Although people say it’s possible to keep wormeries inside…I’m not willing to go that far. So I was pleased to hear Wiggly Wiggler’s podcasts about Effective Microbes and bokashi bucket composting (start with Episode 003).

Bokashi is a Japanese word meaning ‘fermented’, which adequately describes the smell of the finished product, and the grainy powder that starts the process. In daily practice, I keep a plastic bucket with a tap drain in my kitchen. I put in a couple inches of peelings, sprinkle on bokashi, and close the lid tightly. No smell, no bugs, no putting on shoes to go out to the compost heap. Occasionally I drain the tap which yields molassesy water, which is supposed to have terrific results on drain sludge. (Seems those microbes will eat practically anything in the right environment – wet, dark, and low-oxygen.) When the bucket is full (which took a month for the first one, the heavy cooking month of December), it gets set aside for another month. I started a second. The first bucket is just about done, and soon I’ll dig a trench in my garden and enrich my soil with the super-fast-composted mixture of now broken-down scraps and those fabulous microbes still at work.

Where to get bokashi and these buckets? Since I live in the Central Time Zone, I opted for a supplier out of Kansas City, Missouri. If you’re on the East Coast, Wiggly Wigglers may be your best bet. On the West Coast, the amazing Path To Freedom family offers it from their Peddler’s Wagon. Bokashi is apparently easy to make for yourself, if you can consume large quantities.