Bokashi Composting System
Pfctdayelise via Wikipedia
Specialist bacteria and plastic buckets
Ongoing research is needed into the working conditions at manufacturers or design studios, wage standards, and information about unionization
The practice of bokashi is believed to have its earliest roots in ancient Korea; a commercial Japanese bokashi method was developed by Teruo Higa in 1982 under the trademark “EM” (short for Effective Microorganisms)
Fermentation of food waste for the improvement of soil quality
Systems cost between $30 USD and $100 USD and are available at online and in-person stores
The Bokashi system allows people who live in apartments and other small spaces the ability to compost organic waste
Ongoing research is needed into the carbon footprint of the systems, from design to distribution
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Food waste creates 300% more greenhouse gas emissions than aviation
Food waste is difficult to measure, but one UN estimate found that if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses after China and the US. The resources needed to produce the food that becomes lost or wasted has a carbon footprint of about 3.3 billion tons of CO2. This means that wasted food accounts for 6% of global carbon emissions — a significant percentage considering all food production accounts for 26% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Wasted food, whether at home or in a restaurant, generates more than three times the emissions of global aviation. This wasted energy reflects a series of design disasters that intersect with existing power structures. .
Everyone isn’t to blame for food waste that happens at home. Household food waste is primarily created by people with wealth who live near grocery stores. A 2020 study from Penn State revealed that U.S. households squander more than 30% of the food purchased every year. But high-income households living near grocery stores wasted far more than low-income households, especially those living far from a grocery store. In these households, the percentage of food wasted dropped down to 8.7%, representing what some call the inevitability of at least some waste.
Composting can help everyone do more with what’s left over. Composting food waste keeps it out of landfills and benefits the environment through soil amendment. Soil amendments improve drainage, replenish nutrients, change the soil pH, prevent erosion, and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides. However, dominant forms of composting, such as worm bins and tumblers, can’t handle cooked food and require people to have access to a few square meters of exterior space free of rats and other urban animals. The Bokashi composting system offers an alternative without those dependencies.
Bokashi: Composting (almost anywhere!) through fermentation
The Bokashi system includes the fermentation mixture and two buckets. The fermentation mixture contains bran and bacteria that feed on organic matter, turning food scraps — everything from cooked meat to dairy to veggies — into rich soil. To use the system, add food waste to the first bucket as it's created, sprinkle the fermentation mixture, and wait about two weeks for the fermentation process to be complete once the bucket is full. The system includes two buckets, so that users can continue to build their compost pile while the first bucket is in this fermentation phase. After that, the mixture should be buried for four to six weeks in a garden, planter, or soil bin to complete composting.
Everything about the process is designed to work inside small spaces. The buckets have airtight lids, which provides the ideal environment for the fermentation mixture to work while containing unpleasant smells. The drainage spout allows users to release excess liquid, which is nutrient-rich food for houseplants.
M21D + Bokashi
M21D included the Bokashi composting method in its study collection for its mass appeal and environmental benefits. The design empowers people living in small spaces to decrease food waste and improve the soil quality around them.
“How Does it Work?,” Bokashi Living
“National Strategy for Food Waste Reduction,” Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture
“Promoting Sustainable Lifestyles,” UN Environment Programme