Promoting sustainability and specifying green products in buildings have become second nature to architects today. Every project is an opportunity to consider our impact on the environment, including our very own office operations.
Looking at how much food waste our sixteen-person firm generates, and looking to divert food waste away from a landfill, we sought an office-friendly way to compost our food waste. That’s when small-business owner Vandra Thorburn of the Vokashi Company came to us with the solution: fermentation NOT putrefaction, via the “bokashi method.”
Developed in Japan, the bokashi method uses a select group of microorganisms applied on a carrier such as wheat bran to quickly break down organic matter, including meat and cheese – typically “no-nos” in conventional composting. Composed of yeast-like bacteria, molasses and water, the bran ferments the food scraps anaerobically and so produces virtually no smells or mess. Vandra made an in-house visit to instruct the office on the process. (We initiated the Vokashi bucket with some banana and grapefruit peels.) Based on our office size, Vokashi provides us with two buckets for food scraps and the inoculated bran to sprinkle over each layer deposited. Here, we added the flowers to the bucket, alternating each layer with bran.
A thin layer of bran at the bottom…
Add some flowers…
Just a few more flowers!
Another layer of bran…
Seal the bucket so the anaerobic bran can start its magic!
When we lift the lid off the bucket, we have the sweet smell of fermentation to contend with, instead of the smell of decay! A few here at the office have even started bringing in food scraps from home to contribute to the bright green compost buckets. For a small monthly fee, we are able to compost daily, including leftovers from Lunch-and-Learn presentations.
Once a month, a Vokashi representative comes to pick-up the buckets, either taking our organic matter to urban community gardens in New York City, or adding to their soil-amendment experiment at Marine Park Golf Course in Brooklyn. We’re very excited about this experiment, as Vokashi is mixing the bokashi-fermented matter together with sandy soil, and sawdust from local woodworking shops, thereby diverting more waste from the landfills and creating enriched soil. Vokashi sees a future in using their methods in larger bioremediation of urban sites, and ESKW/A is proud to contribute to such an innovative company.
If you’re interested in better disposing of your food waste, too, visit Vokashi here for more information.