10 Bearable Alternatives to Indoor Composting

 10 ways to use your compost immediately and avoid smelling up the house.

It’s time to be honest and admit that while composting is ecologically beneficial and reduces overall waste, it can also smell incredibly repulsive. I’m sure we can all agree that the last thing you need is a bag of slowly rotting seepage under your sink, filling your kitchen with the foul and redolent air of vegetal decay. Imagine the following scenario: you’ve successfully attracted an appealing member of the gender you prefer. They’re in your kitchen for some reason. You’re charming, they’re drinking; things are going well. Then: their face wrinkles. Their smooth and beautiful brow clouds over with concern.

“God, what is that smell?” your date asks tentatively, because s/he’s polite like that.

“Oh, that?” you reply airily. “Why, that’s just my bin full of dead and decaying bits of refuse. You know. Scraps of half-chewed, still-warm kale. Sickly, damp lumps of old coffee grounds. Withered, cracked peels from long-rotted fruits. I just keep those things in a pile, in my kitchen, which is in my house, where I live, like it’s no big deal.”

But it is a big deal. It’s the absolute worst. It starts with composting and it ends with an A&E Hoarders film crew. And if there were eco-conscious, sustainably-minded alternatives to composting, wouldn’t you want to know about them? Of course you would. You’re a human being, and you deserve better than sharing your house with a pile of rotting garbage.

10. Onion peels make a great Easter egg dye. Or just “egg dye” if you like dyeing eggs and it’s not Easter. Wrap a layer of onion skin around your eggs before boiling, and it’ll impart a deep golden or purple tint to the shell.

9. Citrus peels are good for a million things. Dry them up and grind them for a gentle face mask. Put them in liquor. Now your liquor tastes like oranges!

8. Potato skins. What are you composting these for? They’re delicious. Eat them. Don’t be stupid. In fact, make potato skins with them.

7. Give it to the chickens.

6. Banana peels. There’s nothing worse than dumping your compost out at the end of the week and staring at the black floppy corpse of Monday’s breakfast. If you just can’t give up the habit, at least you can use the peels to polish your silver, although I don’t think “owners of silver” and “compostors of banana peels” are two demographics with a lot of overlap.

5. Do any of your neighbors have a garden? Just dump your kitchen scraps out there. That’s free compost and they should thank you.

4. Worm-eaten apples. You’re actually supposed to throw them away. Another bullet safely dodged.

3. Coffee grounds. Apparently you can use them to exfoliate your skin, so just rub it all over yourself in the shower. Problem solved.

2. Used tea leaves. It’s sad and strange the same race that has invented iambic pentameter and space shuttles has also produced you, bending over your sad little compost bin, scraping tepid, bloated tea leaves out of your mug and onto a pile of dead things. I’m assuming that’s what you’re doing with your tea leaves, of course, because if you’re drinking bagged tea then you are well beyond hope and you should go ahead and make whatever choices you like. You know what’s better than that? Make this cake with your leftover tea leaves (make sure to let them dry out a bit and chop them roughly before using). Or make this cake, I don’t care. It’s a good approach to life: every time you make a cup of tea, you have to bake a cake.

1. Just eat it. Whatever it is, it can’t be worse than composting. Quit whining; you’ll be fine. Your house smells better already.

Mallory Ortberg

Mallory resides in San Francisco, California. You can catch her weekly Sex By Numbers column.