When I first saw this composter in an upscale catalog, I thought of it as a symbol of our shortcomings as a nation. Why, I thought, would any sane person spend hundreds of dollars to contain and electrify a natural process and pretend it’s “sustainable?”
Well, I was wrong. This is a neat solution for people with no room for a compost pile, but even for people like me who have a large yard and a compost pile, the Naturemill can become an irreplaceable link in efforts to live more sustainably. Here’s why:
1. The Naturemill is compact and energy-efficient. The maker estimates that it draws the same amount of power as a small lightbulb.
2. The compost reaches high temperatures, with the aid of thermophilic bacteria. That means that you can compost meat, cheese, bread, and other things that I would never put in my outdoor pile. Yes, I know that an outdoor thermophilic pile can compost these items, but I can assure you that in the time before it composts completely, it will draw rodents and roaches, even in an off-the-ground tumbler. I consider it unfair to yourself, neighbors, and the groundwater to try to compost these items outdoors in a suburban area.
3. Virtually any food waste item except citrus rinds and bones can be composted quickly and neatly in any quantity that a home kitchen is likely to produce. People with back pain or other problems that preclude managing a large compost heap can compost with almost no effort. It’s as easy as scraping plates into the garbage, and all you do is add some wood pellets (included when you buy it, and then you can use the wood pellets sold cheaply for fuel) and some baking soda. A concise booklet comes with the machine that’s full of good info about how to avoid problems.
4. Pay close attention here: it can compost pet waste at temperatures that make the finished compost safe. Nationwide, enormous quantities of dog and cat droppings are going into landfills or sitting around endangering the quality of water. There are communities where it’s illegal to put them in the garbage. So what do you do with them? I have been looking for a household solution for a while, and have constructed pet septic systems and every other damn thing, and this is the best solution I’ve found. I hope it goes without saying that you don’t keep it in the house if you are going to do this. The unit is well sealed and under most circumstances you don’t notice any odor when it’s closed, but if you are composting pet waste, there is an odor when it’s opened that is nothing like fresh droppings but which I certainly wouldn’t describe as pleasant. The finished compost smells earthy and like other compost.
The best commendation that I can make is that someone as frugal, thrifty, and outright cheap as me spent $400 for the Pro XE model and considers it money well spent. Read more about it at Naturemill. If you buy one, please let them know that Heather at My Urban Homestead sent you.