Urban Composting - It CAN be done!
I always thought of composting as something that could only be accomplished by people who have vast back yards, or farms. My mother used to compost our yard and food waste, and it seemed like SUCH a chore. We owned this large, plastic polyhedron where we put all of the waste, and you had to rotate it every few days. It produced some great composting soil, but I figured that in order to achieve such a task, one would need somewhere to stash a big pile of grass clippings, raked leaves, and kitchen waste.
Turns out that I was wrong. Almost anyone can compost their food waste. It's easy, it's cheap, and it's SO much better for the environment than just throwing all your organic waste into a landfill.
A couple of months ago, I purchased a small ceramic canister for my kitchen counter. I throw all of my food scraps in there - coffee grounds and filters, egg shells, vegetarian meals that have gone bad, apple cores, and soiled paper towels. Once every few days, I throw the contents of the canister into my neighbor's yard waste container (we have an agreement). If I order pizza, the soiled boxes go in there, too, as do the leaves that I sweep off of my parking spot and front stairs. The City of Seattle hauls yard waste to a local company for mass composting.
That's about it. It takes no more than 5 minutes of every week to do this, costs me $5 a month (since I pay my neighbor for the use of his yard waste bin), and yet I've reduced the amount of normal garbage that I throw away by nearly 1/3. I can live happier knowing that my impact on the planet has been lessened a bit. But for some reason, I can't convince most of my friends to do the same.
It seems that the urban or semi-urban lifestyle leads a lot of people to believe that "messy" things like composting just aren't possible. But it's not only possible, it's really easy! Oh, I'm sure that there are some cities in which the city doesn't pick up yard waste for composting, and that's too bad. And some apartment and condo complexes don't have yard waste bins - but they should! If you're considering composting, but you live in a building with no yard waste or compost bins, consider checking around the neighborhood and seeing if you can split the cost of yard waste pick-up with a neighbor, like I do. Or, pressure your building management to start providing yard waste receptacles.
You don't even need a ceramic container at all - some people just use a milk jug with the top cut off (I like the ceramic container because the top contains a carbon filter to absorb odors - plus, it keeps the fruit flies inside). Some people even do their composting indoors, using worm bins or other methods. If you have a balcony, porch, or garage (hell, even the back corner of an parking spot will do), you can compost your food scraps in a small wooden or plastic bin with a little dirt and some earthworms. There are many online resources that can help you learn how to do this.