Brooklyn Compost Company Vokashi Cleans Up Your Kitchen Waste

by , 01/11/11

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Here at Inhabitat, we’ve long praised the environmental benefits of composting, but we understand that the thought of rotting food or a worm bin in your kitchen can be a turn-off. But fear no more, eco-friends, Vokashi, a new Brooklyn composting company, is here to clean up your kitchen waste in an easy, green, smell-free way.

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Founded by 63-year-old Vandra Thornburn, Vokashi recycles food scraps by fermenting them instead of decomposing them. Her inspiration? Her roomate’s stinky compost bin. “People are not going to do something if it’s got yuck in it,” Thorburn told Brooklyn Based. “I’m taking on the yuck factor.”

Thornburn supplies bright green buckets to her customers, who fill them with their food waste along with a special bran mixture that ferments the scraps. There’s no smell, no flies, no worms, and the result is the same: less trash and fresh fertilizer. Once a customer’s bucket is full, Thornburn picks it up and leaves a clean bucket. The full buckets rest for about two weeks at Thorburn’s home to finish fermenting. Then, customers can opt to keep the fertilizer for home use or Thorburn will transport it to East New York Farms.

The use of bran to create fertilizer started in the 1960s, when a Japanese scientist invented EM-1, the bacterial agent that Thornburn uses. The bacteria is mixed with molasses, wheat grain, and yeast fungi to create the bran. Along with fertilizers, EM-1 variations are used to make cleaning agents and human digestive aids. Brooklyn Based reports:

The chemical process is similar to vinegar-based pickling, said Dr. Yong Deng Hang, a food science professor at Cornell University. “The process is to acidify the food,” said Hang. Yeast converts food sugars into alcohol and lactic acid bacteria convert sugars into lactic acid. Combined, these create a vinegar-like acid that ferments the waste. Like a picked cucumber, it can sit, preserved, on a shelf—or in your front yard—until you are ready to use it, Hang added.

Operation costs are low, which makes the service extremely affordable. For one apartment, it costs $40 a month, which includes the bran mixture and two buckets, plus an initial deposit of $15. The costs decrease if multiple apartments from the same building participate: $30 each a month for two to nine apartments or $20 for ten or more.

Thorburn currently only has 30 customers, mostly apartment residents, but she’s working to expand the business. If you’re interested in composting with Vokashi, visit the website or call 718-623-1911.

+ Vokashi

Via Brooklyn Based

Images © Vokashi

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1 Comment

  1. msyin July 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    This is a perfect idea for urban areas where they would not have the space to compost others do in their gardens. What a fantastic business idea that I am sure will grow with exposure. I also like the fact that it was created from a fellow Brooklynite. This idea is perfect for the densely populated areas and can spread to the other boroughs.

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