How Composting Has Gone High-Tech
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How Composting Has Gone High-Tech

We tried out four new ways to encourage rot that are easier, chicer and far less smelly than the hippy methods of old.

By Jordan. G. Teicher
Thu, Jan 21, 2021Grey Clock 3 min

Humans have composted food for about as long as they have grown it. But in a world increasingly obsessed with tidy convenience, many view the chore of converting food waste into fertiliser for plants and gardens much as they do tending to kombucha scoby or committing to cloth diapers for their infants: too time-consuming, too “granola” and too plain icky.

Composting has “been perceived as this very stinky project that takes a bunch of time and only makes sense if you have a big backyard,” said Friday Apaliski, a San Francisco “sustainability concierge” who works with clients to make their homes more green. She believes that people “are starting to understand how truly phenomenal composting is.”

Composting has ‘been perceived as this very stinky project that takes a bunch of time and only makes sense if you have a big backyard,’ said Friday Apaliski.

Indeed, new composting technology has emerged that makes the process easier, faster and more stylish. Some composting systems are now small enough to live on your kitchen’s countertop and sufficiently attractive that you won’t mind looking at them day after day.

And with houseplant ownership skyrocketing (compost is just as good for Instagramable succulents as for an old-time vegetable garden) and a growing desire to reduce methane-producing food waste, more Americans are trying the ancient practice out for themselves. Between 2014 and 2019, according to the 2019 Composting in America report, the number of American communities offering composting programs increased 65%. This summer, Vermont became the first state in the nation to make composting mandatory.

If you’re going to do it, why not do it as pleasantly as possible? Here, our four favourite new products that use sharp design and cutting-edge technology to speed up, shrink down or even glamorize composting at home.

For Lazy Gardeners

Anyone looking to turn food scraps into fertilizer has typically had to house the refuse in rudimentary backyard containers and use their own forearm strength to intermittently aerate it with a shovel. New age tumblers like the Envirocycle do most of the aerating for you: You need only spin the drum manually a few times a week. Stored outside, the device is fully enclosed—keeping funky smells in and curious critters out. The company offers a 64-litre version of its classic 132-litre tumbler designed to fit on a patio or balcony. It promises to produce usable compost for your pandemic victory garden in a month. (US$210, envirocycle.com)

For Odor-Averse Urbanites

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Once, environmentalists looking to keep their kitchens smelling fresh had no good option but to stuff their scraps in the freezer or bring them immediately to the collection pile outside, even on inconveniently freezing January nights. These days, tabletop bins like Bamboozle’s are designed to accommodate charcoal filters under the lid that oust odours through adsorption. The Bamboozle’s handle also makes it a good way to transport waste to a nearby community garden or compost collection site if you lack the space or ambition to make plant food yourself. (US$40, bamboozlehome.com)

For the Worm-Curious

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Vermicomposting (that is, worm-assisted composting) can speed up the tedious process, but “pretty” is not something you’d call red wigglers, or the tiered plastic vermicomposting structures they typically live in. Uncommon Goods’ sculptural Living Composter, however, gives hardworking worms chicer digs. Just drop peelings and sawdust soil mix into the countertop device’s opening and the worms-in-residence (order yours from Uncle Jim’s, from US$28, unclejimswormfarm.com) will get busy processing about 1 kilogram of food a week into nourishment for houseplant babies. (US$200, uncommongoods.com)

For Impatient Gearheads

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Microorganisms take weeks to do their work. High-tech machines like Vitamix’s Foodcycler, meanwhile, require only hours. While not technically a composter (the definition requires “natural” decay), the microwave-sized device can turn a wider than normal range of organic material into “recycled food compound” in no more than the 8 hours you’ll be asleep in bed. You can add in dairy, meat scraps and even some bones. But be warned: the Vitamix has a relatively tiny capacity of only 2.5 litres, and is less environmentally friendly than methods that don’t require electricity to work. (uS$350, vitamix.com)

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By Robyn Willis
Fri, Aug 5, 2022 2 min

When people talk about making a seachange, chances are this is the kind of property on the NSW South Coast that they have in mind.

Open for inspection for the first time this Saturday, 24 Point Street Bulli offers rare absolute beachfront, with never-to-be-built-out north facing views of the ocean. Located on the tip of Sandon Point, this two-storey property is a surfer’s dream with one of Australia’s most iconic surf breaks just beyond the back wall.

On the lower floor at street level, there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms, including a family bathroom and an ensuite in the master suite. A fourth bedroom is on the upper floor, along with the main living area, and is serviced by its own bathroom. 

While this would make a spectacular holiday home, it is well equipped for day-to-day living, with a spacious gourmet kitchen and butler’s pantry set into the articulated open plan living area on the first floor. A separate media room to the street side of the property on this level provides additional living space. 

Every aspect of this property has been considered to take in the light and views, with high ceilings internally and spacious, north facing decks on both levels to take in views of rolling waves. If the pull of the ocean is irresistible, it’s just a 100m walk to feel the sand between your toes.

The house is complemented by a Mediterranean, coastal-style garden, while the garage has room for a workshop and two car spaces.

An easy walk to Bulli village, the property is a 20 minute drive from the major hub of Wollongong and just over an hour to Sydney.

 

Open: Saturday August 6 2pm-3pm Auction: Saturday September 3 Price guide: N/A but expected to exceed $5.3m paid in March for 1 Alroy Street 

Contact: McGrath Thirroul – Vanessa Denison-Pender, 0488 443 174