This Countertop Home Composter Is a Game Changer
The innovative technology in Lomi lets you create garden compost almost overnight. Find out what one HGTV editor thought of the device.
I feel like I've tried every pail and sink-side compost helper out there. They always start out cute and then quickly progress to disgusting. No matter how many times you change the filter or clean them, the little gnats and the eau d'rot inevitably make their presence known. Pretty soon saving the planet was being weighed against the pervasive funk that had crept into my kitchen.
And the actual yard composting bin could be equally ick, with all manner of stench and vermin (I won't share the gory details) seemingly just part of doing the good work of composting.
Mind Blown Composting Moment
But Lomi has changed the composting game in a big way. This relatively compact countertop composter (about the size of a combo air fryer/toaster oven at 16 inches wide, 13 inches in diameter and 12 inches high) is not exactly petite. And because it's electric you will need to keep it out and close to an outlet. But that front-and-center status has its appeal too: Most likely no one else on your block has a Lomi so you'll have the "I care more about the environment than you do" virtue signaling advantage.
What the Holy Heck Is a Lomi?
Traditional composting in a bin or with worms takes a long time and is smelly and messy. Lomi, created by the brand Pela, which created the world's first compostable phone case, is a game changer for the speed with which it tackles the decomposition process. The device, along with some helpmate accessories, is a relatively small tabletop composter that contains all necessary elements to create fertilizer: microorganisms, heat, aeration and moisture.
The fastest countertop composter on the market, Lomi works by simultaneously putting organic waste through all of the phases of decomposition (grinding, moisture regulation and aeration). Beyond that, I don't know what to tell you. It's science.
How to Use Lomi
I will admit I was intimidated by the operation of the Lomi at first. But just so you know, I am the kind of Luddite who tends to be challenged by any new "technology" (I won't tell you how long it took me to adapt to "pay at the pump" and grocery store self-checkout). But Lomi has proven to be a very easy-to-use device.
Included with the Lomi are activated charcoal filters, which keep the machine stink-free. Also provided with the machine are 45 LomiPods which contain probiotics that help speed up decomposition. Those are necessary for both the Grow and Bioplastic modes. Hackers suggest you can find charcoal for the filter from other sources, but there is no replacement for the LomiPods out there.
You add your table scraps and some compostable items to the dishwasher-safe Lomi pail like paper towels, tea bags, biodegradable plastics and even dairy and meat (minus bones), seal the lid on tight, add water and a LomiPod and use one of the three settings depending upon what composting "experience" you are after. Here's a breakdown (get it?) of the three Lomi cycles:
- Eco Express Mode (3-5 hours) shrinks food waste, which can be added to your compost as a "starter."
- Grow Mode (16-20 hours) creates a finished, ready-to-use compost.
- Bioplastic Mode (5-8 hours) breaks down certified organic plastics into compost. The end result cannot go directly into soil.
Both the Eco Express and Bioplastic modes create a compressed end product that you can put into a green bin, your outdoor composting pile or drop off at a compost center, but which you can't just mix at a 1-10 ratio into your plants' soil as with the Grow mode.
We tended to use the longest Grow Mode in order to create compost we could add to houseplants.
The one big caveat you will need to know about when weighing the purchase of a Lomi is the cost and proprietary nature of Lomi accessories. To make Lomi work, you will need to buy LomiPods that allow the organic breakdown to happen and activated charcoal filters (replaced on average every 3 months) to keep the stank at bay. And you can't get these at Walmart or Target (though the Lomi itself is popping up on sites like Amazon and Best Buy). They are currently $39 for both and IMO they should be sold separately since you may go through the LomiPods more quickly than you go through the filters. I'm just saying.
The Upside to Using This Home Composter
I'll admit the design is a big part of Lomi's appeal. Steve Jobs was onto something with that initial clean white Apple design, which also gives Lomi its sleek, high-tech look. The design message is clear: This is a clean, techie answer to the gooey hippie composting past.
And the process of making soil is remarkably clean, fragrance-free and, if I must be honest, deeply satisfying. The way Lomi turns table scraps into soil is sci-fi-worthy cool. My husband and I regularly race around looking for things in the fridge past their prime to add to the Lomi so we can do another cycle. Our lives are clearly very empty.
Using the machine is addictive because the process is almost instantaneous and close to magic. All those effusive testimonials on the Lomi website are not hyperbole: This is truly an amazing machine that turns bright, colorful food into dark chocolately soil in record time. That simply never gets old.
And my plants are supernaturally healthy with regular feedings of Lomi compost. Suddenly, anemic little plants in my porch containers are sprouting vibrant white blossoms. This stuff is the plant version of Tom Brady's vegan diet. It will turn your plants into lean, mean, fighting machines.
Additionally, if you are a city dweller, lack outdoor space or just don't want the bother of turning a large outdoor composter or contending with vermin, then this neater and easier solution might be perfect for you.
The Downside of Lomi
Now for the bad news.
The Lomi will set you back $499.
And while they do have an installment plan for payments, I understand why even dedicated home gardeners and fans of contributing to low-waste, more environmentally-sound practices might balk at the cost. After all, who wants to end up with another high-priced bread machine or other kitchen contraption that is first a novelty and then...a doorstop?
But think about some of your other higher-end kitchen appliances like that Vitamix or KitchenAid mixer and the math of how much you use them compared to how much you paid for them. I use the Lomi on average every other day, which is a lot.
Another potential downside: you can't just toss peach pits or watermelon rinds into this baby. The former are a no-go entirely: They are simply too hard to break down in the Lomi composting cycle. Something like a watermelon rind, though it will break down, you will need to expend some extra elbow grease to chop it into small-ish pieces in order for it to be properly composted.
And this machine is not silent. It's doing some heavy-duty work and it makes the sounds to prove it, so it will probably work best in a room where the noise isn't an issue. While we undergo a kitchen renovation the Lomi is sitting on a console table alongside my hydroponic garden right outside my bedroom door. So on the nights we are using the Lomi, I put in ear plugs. Heavy sleepers might not mind the sound, but I'm a light sleeper, so the ear plugs are a necessity.
And finally, the amount of compost produced in the Lomi will obviously never rival what you will create in a backyard composter: something to spread on your garden beds. Think of Lomi compost as more of a way to keep food waste out of landfills and a houseplant and deck vegetable garden enhancer. It's a way to save on potting soil and help your plants thrive. Oh, and do your part to cut down on food waste, which is also very satisfying and not a small thing. And the energy used to operate the machine is less than that used to run the dishwasher.
The Bottom Line
My husband and I are both fans of this machine. The plants we've added the compost to are thriving, and it feels really good to turn something potentially stinky and gross into usable soil. I will probably never get over the science experiment miracle of how tomato ends and paper towels become soil while I sleep. Unlike our bread machine, waffle maker and even the Nutribullet, which have all been put out to pasture or banished to the upper cabinets, I predict that Lomi will become an essential part of our modern citizen routine like recycling.