We wrestled with composting for several years before discovering the Subpod composting system, an odorless vermiculture (worm-based) compost bin that is easy to manage and available in versions that fit into a garden, on a balcony, or even a large window garden or grow tent. The Subpod compost bins, available in single- and double-bin configurations, are designed to be placed into the ground to allow worms to move back and forth between the compost and surrounding soil. We saw improved growth in plants around our Subpod and it produced rich compost after only three months based on regular feeding with household waste, including food scraps, lawn and other yard waste, and the box the Subpod arrived in.
Subpod delivers its products in a compact, easy-to-assemble form — you simply unfold and clip the sides and cover into place — with paper-only packaging that serves as a source of dry carbon to add to the bin. We composted our box by tearing it into pieces and mixing it in as food waste was added. It’s also the first product we’ve ever purchased that eliminated its packaging waste.
Composting food waste prevents the material from producing methane and CO2 in a landfill. The Earth Day Institute estimates that every pound of food waste composted eliminates 3.8 lbs. of CO2e emissions. If you compost 34 lbs. a week, the maximum supported by Subpod, you can keep 129.2 lbs. of CO2 out of the atmosphere for each week of use.
The original Subpod In-Garden Compost System ($220.00, converts up to 34 lbs. of food waste a week) features two bins and is available with a steel planting bin as part of the Subpod Grow Bundle ($403.00, up to 34 lbs. a week); the Subpod Mini ($143.00, which can handle 22 lbs. of food waste weekly) is a single-bin format; with the Balcony Grow Bundle ($599.00 — 22 lbs. of waste/week) features a Subpod Mini in a grow bag that can sit on a balcony or patio to feed a rich garden without any odor. For smaller households with limited space there is also the Grow Bag Bundle ($257.00 — 22 lbs. of waste/week) which can last five years or more outdoors. Shipping is $10 for all products. Subpod offers a great selection for use in any home or apartment.
Subpod bins are made of rigid polypropylene, the same type of #5 plastic from which bottle caps are made, and the company claims they will last more than a decade. It can be recycled by many programs around the country. Add your ZIP code to this search for local recycling options.
The emissions created by the plastic used in Subpod products represent a tiny fraction of the CO2 that the system keeps out of the atmosphere. Based on polypropylene emissions analyses conducted by the European Environment Agency’s European Topic Centre on Waste and Materials in a Green Economy, Earth911 estimates that producing the double-bin versions of Subpod generates approximately 83.62 lbs. of CO2 and shipping contributes about 22.44 lbs., while the single-bin version accounts for 67 lbs. of plastics-related emissions and 18.01 in shipping emissions. The Subpod Grow Bundle and ModBed include additional emissions related to the steel and wood garden containers they include.
Here’s where the full lifecycle sustainability benefits of the Subpod come into clear focus. By reducing CO2 emissions from food waste, the basic Subpod models become carbon neutral after less than a month based on their capacity — if you compost less, it will take longer.
Subpod Mini single-bin
Production & shipping emissions: 85.07 lbs.
Waste from a family of three, per week: ~25.2 lbs.
CO2 averted per week: 95.76 lbs.
CO2 break-even: 0.8 weeks at full capacity
Subpod In-Garden System double-bin
Production & shipping emissions: 106.06 lbs.
Waste from a family of four, per week: ~34 lbs.
CO2 averted per week: 129.2 lbs.
CO2 break-even: 1.2 weeks at full capacity
Sustainable Use & Packaging Recycling
The only challenge with composting is developing the habit and continuing to feed your bin with food, paper, cardboard, and yard waste. If you have the double-bin Subpod In-Garden System, you should fill one side of the bin at least two-thirds before adding waste regularly to the second bin. Your worms will migrate to the new food source, allowing easier harvesting of the first bin’s finished compost. Mix the new waste into the bin each time food or yard waste is added. We’ve had success with Uncle Jim’s Red Composting worms.
Subpod’s compostable, plastic-free packaging is the first source of dry carbon to use in your new composting system. Tear it into small pieces and mix with food waste at a 1-to-1 ratio. Once the box is gone, you use paper, leaves, and other brown materials instead.
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