Urban Composting

It can't be denied that composting is a little off-topic for a blog broadly aimed at travel. But, with the lockdown in full swing across the world, there isn't really a lot of travelling going on. At Packing Towers, we've had our hands full with homeschooling, and generally managing. But the urge to publish has become irresistible!

All this time at home made us aware that a lot of food was going in the bin, heading for landfill. At the same time, we buy compost for our small city terrace. The solution stares you in the face. Before we go into the details, just look at the gif below - in a month, food waste (+some cat litter without the poo) was turned into wonderful compost.

Compost after 1 month

The Envirocycle really does make compost in a month

The problem

If you have a fair-sized garden, then having a compost heap tucked away somewhere is almost obligatory. When your outdoor space consists of a square of about 3m in each direction, having things tucked away is not really a thing - you see and smell everything! So the main requirements for a composter were:

  • It has to be quite small and easy on the eye
  • It must control smells
  • It should work quickly; we want compost for this summer, not next year or the year after

The solution

After some research, it seemed that we need a tumbling composter. And further digging (groan) turned up The Envirocycle. Described as 'The Cutest Composter in the World' the Envirocycle seemed to be the solution. It wasn't exactly cheap, but we could justify it by the mountains of lovely compost it was going to make, and the landfill saved, over many years.

Here it is - choose either black or pink.

The Environcycle - a thing of beauty

It is very straightforward to use. Unlike other tumbling composters, there is no set to up do, just place the barrel on the base. We had collected a bucket of scraps for the kitchen over the previous week, in addition there was some garden waste and a bag of cat litter. They all went in and were tumbled around every few days, with further kitchen scraps added for a couple of weeks. As you can see from the gif, the composting process is very quick and produces perfect looking compost. Some further comments are below:

  • The cat litter we have is the kind made of sawdust compressed into little pellets, with (we believe) no other additives. We scooped out the cat poo before storing the litter. The litter developed a strong ammonia smell prior to composting, but this doesn't seem to have affected the compost. The pellets return to sawdust when they get wet, so there is no evidence of the pellets in the final compost. The internet is divided on the composting of cat litter - some say it can be dangerous due to the risk of toxoplasmosis. I think you have to make your own decision. Most gardens receive regular feline visitors so are not poo-free in any case. From our perspective, the litter is a perfect thing as it composts well with food scraps, and we were sick of putting it in the bin, with it going into landfill.
  • The first time we composted, we threw in garden waste, leaves, small twigs etc. This doesn't work if you want the composter to finish in a month. We currently stick to kitchen waste plus the cat litter.
  • In terms of kitchen waste, we put in pretty much anything that is vegetable-based. We usually chop it up roughly, to give it the best chance of breaking down quickly in the compost. The only veggies we avoid are anything with seeds, like peppers/melons as they sprout in the compost, and anything really solid, like the middle of sweetcorn cobs. We do compost eggshells, usually washed and chopped.


The Envirocycle is a perfect solution to urban composting, if your outside space is limited to a small patio or terrace. It is small, attractive, easy to use and doesn't smell. It makes beautiful compost in a remarkably short time. The only downside is that it is fairly expensive.

That gif again:

Compost after 1 month