I used to have a fancy-pants NatureMill electric kitchen composter. It was a pretty kitchen appliance that plugged in so it could heat, turn and compress itself into perfect boxes of compost without any work from me, the lazy farmer. It cost a lot of money (though to be honest, I wasn't the one who bought it). This is a lesson learned: Sometimes the simplest, original way of doing things is still the best.
The electricity part of my NatureMill composter shorted out a few weeks ago, and when I contacted customer service they said there was most likely a problem with the "motherboard". I realized then that it was ridiculous to be composting with a machine that required a motherboard. It was essentially a composter time machine spaceship and it was totally absurd.
Composting is just decomposing scraps of natural materials- food, houseplants, paper- back into nutritious soil. There is evidence that farmers have been actively composting for hundreds of years and, duh, nature itself is the original composter. Why was I making it so complicated? Instead of spending $70 to have the motherboard fixed, I scrapped the NatureMill and invested $18 in a Gaiam Kitchen Compost Bucket.
The Gaiam is a small plastic bucket that I keep in the cabinet under my sink. It has a hole in the top of the bucket to hold an odor-eliminating charcoal filter, which needs to be changed every 3 months. You can buy biodegradable bucket liners if you'd like, or just use the bucket as-is and clean it every once in a while. And that's it. No flashing lights, no instruction manual, and no motherboard!
I fill the bucket with all of my natural scraps, excluding dairy and meat. Those materials were fine for my heated composter, but I avoid them in this traditional kitchen compost bucket because they take a very long time to decompose and that will attract rodents. When the bucket is filled, which seems to be about once a week, I just tie up the biodegradable bag of scraps and bring it into my backyard where I have a larger barrel filled with decomposing materials- garden scraps, old cotton shirts, and more bags from my kitchen composter. Next year at this time, the stuff in that barrel will have decomposed into composted soil.
If you don't have a backyard, many cities have compost collection systems similar to garbage and recycling collection, and they'll deliver your decomposing materials to community gardens that have formal composting set ups. You can also just bring it by yourself! Community, school and church gardens always appreciate donated compost.