Monday, March 17, 2008

Guest Post: The Nature Mill Composter





My Friend Malika recently got an electric composter. And we at Green Rebates had an easy time convincing her to write a review of her time with it so far.

She has a lot good to say about the one she got. It's made by NatureMill. These composters start at $299 right now, but the company has an amazing deal where three friends can buy a composter and they all receive a 15% discount. While Malika has a NatureMill Plus, They make both a more expensive pro version that comes in multiple colors and a pet composter that Katie and I are now planning to buy.

Read Malika's Review:

The NatureMill composter is a good size for any kitchen, however it is just a little too big to put under our sink, so we've decided to sit it directly on the countertop. The black, sleek look is good in that it doesn't stand out too much. We use the composter daily, as you might imagine. This composter is unique in that you can add dairy, fish and meat into it because of the heating component. It doesn't smell when the lid is closed, but there is definitely an odor & condensation when you open it. Donny enjoys the smell, which is a combination of coffee, heat and nature. It's just as easy to put the food scraps in the composter as it is in the trash can. It's just a different kind of recycling bin. Every few hours the mixing starts. Our apartment is a very open space with hardly any closed off rooms, which means you can hear things from just about anywhere inside. For us this translates to the composter being very loud and noticeable. The two major sounds are the motor and the mixing bar hitting the latches. We actually thought the composter was broken when we first received it because of the strange sounds. We've slowly gotten used to the sounds, but its mostly just unpleasant in the middle of the night when you are trying to sleep. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a consistent time of day or length that it chooses to mix. This composter could go outside, which would greatly reduce the noise factor, but would be less convenient. After the compost reaches a certain level (usually after about 2 weeks time, depending on how much food you put in) it is ready to transfer into the small pot below. A final mix occurs before you transfer. The liquid from the compost is supposed to land in a separate container, but inevitably it also goes into the pot. We've only transferred once so far and it is a little bit messy in the pot. After 2 transfers you are ready to pull the entire pot out. There is definitely a heavy smell, but the messy compost is quite contained in the pot. There are several options at this stage. You could lay out the compost to dry and cure or you could use it right away. I used the compost immediately on some fruit trees I had already planted. After a few weeks of being outside a thin layer of white mold has started to grow on the compost. Every so often I rake the compost to break up the clumps and get it more invested in the soil. I think next time I will probably mix it with soil first before spreading it over the garden to hopefully avoid the mold process. It's definitely a learn as you go kind of gadget. Also to note, the composter itself is made up of recycled and recyclable materials.

The NatureMill company seems to be on the newer side. I've never had a phone conversation with anyone from the company, but it was easy to buy directly off their website. I have had many email exchanges with a customer service rep named Sanford. They are even sending us a new mixing bar at no cost to see if this will reduce the noises it makes. Not sure if that will work, but I appreciate their willingness to help.

The composter is also really great for educating friends and family about the environment. Donny was was a bit weary at first and is not always inclined to recycle. He's come around and is genuinely excited and interested in the composter. It has been a good vehicle for us to communicate about the environment with one another. We're constantly discussing what you can & can't put in the composter, which makes it quite interactive.

It also helps train your brain to separate: food goes in one place, paper/plastics/etc go in another and non-recyclable waste goes in a 3rd place.
Before purchasing the composter we had about 1-2 heavy bags of trash per week. Now that we recycle more and use the composter for all appropriate waste, we're down to less than a full bag of trash every 2 weeks. I think that is quite a significant change. I think what I've learned most from using the composter is really how much food we waste. We don't just put scraps in the composter. We also put in food that has gone bad, especially when cleaning out the refrigerator. This makes you realize even more how to try and conserve the amount you buy or make. Even though we do get rid of food, it does make me feel good that we are still able to use it. Since having the composter I've been inspired and recently started a vegetable garden so that I can use the fertilizer for a real "full circle" experience.

I particularly like the fact that it can compost meat and other less easily composted matter. This is a real boon to anyone who wants to compost in a small space. The demand for small backyard orchards is growing according to the New York Times and this might be something great to help people's green thumbs.

11 comments:

Katie said...

I would like to personally thank Malika for putting together such a great review of something I knew just the littlest about. I look forward to when I have one humming in my apartment while she has her composter humming in hers.

I am Arizona; a person, not a place. said...

I saw one of these at a thrift store near my house and wanted to buy it. It looked brand new and they wanted $150 for it. Its probably still there...if anyone is in Chicago, go to the Salvation Thrift STore on Clybourn to pick it up. Thanks for this review. We live in an apartment, too, so I'm not going to buy it because of the noise you say it makes. I have 3 small kids, so if its noisy at night it may keep them up. Plus, our apartment is noisy enough. I don't need more noise. It looks like a great product, though.

Jill1 said...

Do not, under any circumstances, buy the Nature Mill Indoor Composter!!!! I talked two friends into buying units with me to get the discount, and none of our units work properly. They’re flimsily made, and do not perform the way they’re supposed to. My unit broke after two weeks–it stopped mixing. My friend’s unit stopped emptying. My other friends unit stopped emptying. We contacted the company (email is your only option here–no phone help available). We waited over a month for replacement parts. Imagine cleaning compost slime and gook off of many parts in order to take everything apart and replace parts. Two weeks after I got my unit up and running again, it stopped emptying. The unit looks like a phase one prototype. Piece are flimsy and break easily. I ended up rigging up my own solutions (driving nails into the styrofoam backing to keep the motor and motor shaft from coming out) to problems that should have been remedied before they put this on the market. It is the worst purchasing mistake I’ve ever made. Run, don’t walk, from this composter!!!!!

Junio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Junio said...

Malika has had a lot of trouble with her composter as well. You can check out more of her experiences at http://locallosangeles.blogspot.com

Tom said...

OUTSTANDING machine! We have one at work and it humms along busy all day making compost. Mostly we put the coffee in it every day (we have a LOT of coffee drinkers at the office). Also it gets all the lunch leftovers, and then the end-of-week mystery foods that are abandoned at the back of the fridge. Quite a lot of stuff actually. It handles it extremely well. One of my coworkers takes the compost home with her every few weeks and has very good gardening results with it. I strongly recommend this machine! I am saving up for one of my own.

tomboy said...

You want to get the new "XE" version. It just came out. I got one at Costco. It seems to be a different design which has a stronger motor and a different filter so hopefully it takes care of all of the earlier-model problems.

Tristan said...

They have a new model out now - the XE Series - which has a stronger filter and a bigger motor so hopefully that fixes the earlier problems. I already ordered one and am waiting eagerly to receive it!

Rinh said...

Get the 2009 model - the new XE version. It seems to much stronger. I have not had any problems with mine. The earlier versions were not as good.

Allan W. said...

Their newer model just came out - the XE Series as they call it. It seem to have a new motor and other mechanisms to address the earlier issues. And also an energy saving mode to conserve energy. Very smart. The reviews of this one have been very good and I am getting ready to make a purchase.

Andrew B. said...

Their new XE model looks very promising. It got a huge write up in the Wall Street Journal - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107204574471330808326984.html . Apparently they fixed the earlier issues. Also it's available at Costco so it's got to be pretty good, right?