The benefits of composting on board
The benefits of composting on board

Reduce your environmental impact and conserve resources while sailing the open seas by adopting sustainable composting practices on board your boat.

The Benefits of Composting On Board

Sailing the open seas and exploring the world with your family is an incredible experience. It’s a lifestyle that offers freedom, adventure, and the opportunity to connect with nature on a deeper level. As sailors, we have a responsibility to protect the environment and preserve the beauty of the oceans for future generations. One way to do this is by adopting sustainable sailing practices, such as composting on board.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of composting on board, discuss the different methods available, and provide practical tips for implementing a successful composting system on your boat. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how composting can contribute to a more environmentally friendly sailing lifestyle.

What is Composting?

Composting is the natural process of breaking down organic waste materials, such as food scraps and yard waste, into a nutrient-rich, soil-like substance called compost. This process is carried out by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, which feed on the organic matter and convert it into a stable, humus-like material.

Composting has numerous environmental benefits, including reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, and producing a valuable soil amendment that can be used to improve soil fertility and support plant growth.

Why Compost on Board?

There are several reasons why composting on board your boat is a great idea:

  1. Reducing Waste: Composting allows you to significantly reduce the amount of waste you produce on board, which means less trash to store and dispose of when you reach port. This not only helps to keep your boat cleaner and more organized, but also reduces your environmental impact by decreasing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills or the ocean.

  2. Conserving Resources: By composting your food scraps, you’re helping to conserve valuable resources, such as water and energy, that would otherwise be used to process and transport your waste.

  3. Improving Soil Health: Compost is an excellent soil amendment that can be used to improve the health and fertility of the soil in your onboard garden or at your destination. By using compost, you’re contributing to the health of the local ecosystem and supporting sustainable agriculture practices.

  4. Educational Opportunities: Composting on board provides a unique opportunity to teach your children about the importance of environmental stewardship and the natural processes that occur in the world around them.

Composting Methods for Boats

There are several composting methods that can be adapted for use on a boat. The method you choose will depend on factors such as the size of your boat, the amount of waste you produce, and your personal preferences. Here are three popular composting methods that can be used on board:

1. Bokashi

Bokashi is a Japanese term that means “fermented organic matter.” This composting method involves fermenting food waste in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment using a special mix of microorganisms called Bokashi bran. The Bokashi process is relatively quick, taking only a few weeks to produce a finished product that can be used as a soil amendment or buried in the ground to decompose further.


  • Bokashi is a compact and odor-free composting method, making it ideal for use on boats.
  • The Bokashi process can handle a wide variety of food waste, including meat, dairy, and cooked foods, which are typically not recommended for other composting methods.
  • Bokashi composting requires minimal maintenance and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine.


  • Bokashi composting requires the purchase of Bokashi bran, which may not be readily available in all locations.
  • The finished Bokashi product must be buried in the ground or added to a traditional compost pile to fully decompose, which may not be feasible for some sailors.

2. Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting, or worm composting, involves using worms to break down organic waste materials into nutrient-rich compost. This method requires a worm bin, which can be purchased or built from scratch, and a supply of composting worms, such as red wigglers.


  • Vermicomposting is a relatively fast composting method, with worms capable of consuming their body weight in food waste each day.
  • Worm composting produces a high-quality compost that is rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms.
  • Vermicomposting can be a fun and educational activity for children, who can learn about the role of worms in the decomposition process.


  • Vermicomposting requires a larger space than Bokashi and may not be suitable for smaller boats.
  • Worms can be sensitive to temperature and moisture fluctuations, which may be challenging to manage on a boat.
  • Vermicomposting may not be suitable for those who are squeamish about handling worms.

3. Aerobic Composting

Aerobic composting is the traditional method of composting that involves piling organic waste materials in a bin or pile and allowing them to decompose in the presence of oxygen. This method requires regular turning or stirring of the compost pile to maintain proper aeration and moisture levels.


  • Aerobic composting is a low-cost and low-maintenance composting method that can be easily adapted for use on a boat.
  • This method produces a high-quality compost that can be used to improve soil fertility and support plant growth.


  • Aerobic composting can be slower than other methods, taking several months to produce finished compost.
  • This method requires more space than Bokashi or vermicomposting and may not be suitable for smaller boats.
  • Aerobic composting can produce odors if not managed properly, which may be a concern for those living in close quarters on a boat.

Tips for Successful Composting on Board

Regardless of the composting method you choose, here are some tips to help ensure your success:

  1. Choose the Right Location: Select a location on your boat that is easily accessible, well-ventilated, and protected from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. This will help to maintain the proper conditions for composting and minimize any potential odors.

  2. Maintain Proper Moisture Levels: Composting requires a balance of moisture to support the decomposition process. Too much moisture can lead to anaerobic conditions and foul odors, while too little moisture can slow down the process. Aim to keep your compost pile or bin as damp as a wrung-out sponge.

  3. Balance Your Inputs: A successful compost pile requires a balance of carbon-rich materials (such as paper, cardboard, or dried leaves) and nitrogen-rich materials (such as food scraps and grass clippings). Aim for a ratio of approximately 3:1 carbon to nitrogen for optimal decomposition.

  4. Monitor and Adjust: Regularly check your compost pile or bin for signs of decomposition, such as a rise in temperature, a decrease in volume, and the presence of earthy-smelling, dark brown compost. If you notice any issues, such as foul odors or slow decomposition, adjust your inputs or moisture levels as needed.

  5. Be Patient: Composting is a natural process that takes time. Be patient and give your compost pile or bin the time it needs to transform your waste materials into valuable compost.


Composting on board is an excellent way to reduce your environmental impact, conserve resources, and contribute to a more sustainable sailing lifestyle. By choosing the right composting method for your boat and following the tips outlined in this article, you can successfully implement a composting system that benefits both your family and the environment. So, set sail and embrace the benefits of composting on board!