Wondering if you should buy a Lomi or a FoodCycler to compost your food scraps at home? Read on for more information about Lomi vs. FoodCycler and if an electric composter might make sense for you.
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Once upon a time, I bought a FoodCycler FC-50. A few months later I bought a Lomi machine through crowdfunding that arrived at my house approximately 13,728 days later (maybe not that many, but it felt like it). I still have both of these electric composters and… I literally never use them.
Even though I have both of them, I would never recommend someone buy both of these machines. While they might each claim to have some unique qualities, they’re basically the same thing. Don’t believe the hype that one should replace the other. I bought them both specifically so I could try them out, use each of them, and compare them in an informed manner for the blog.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten SO many questions about whether or not it’s worth it to buy a Lomi or a FoodCycler, which one is better, and how they work.
I had grand plans to write a comprehensive review of the Lomi. I already wrote a review of the Vitamix FoodCycler. I’ve also taken a dive into the carbon emissions from running the machine to consider one reason why an electronic compost machine may or may not be worth it. I ended up not writing a full review of the Lomi and wrote this post instead.
I’ve shared all the ways you can (or cannot) use Lomi dirt or FoodCycler Foodilizer. Take a peek at the post and you’ll quickly see I’m not a huge fan.
If you’re contemplating an investment in an electric composter, there are several things to consider before spending money on this supposedly eco-friendly kitchen appliance. Let’s break it down (see what I did there). 😉
Should you buy a Lomi or a Foodilizer electric composter?
Quick answer: probably not.
I think nearly all people will be best off saving their money and not investing in this large financial investment that is also pretty large itself. (It takes up a seriously solid amount of counter space, especially for something designed with apartment dwellers in mind.)
I’m sure there will be a handful of people for whom an electric composter makes sense. I’d be silly to suggest I knew with certainty that no one should buy it. But I do think the ideal audience is pretty small. Before you spend your money, consider these 5 reasons not to buy an electric composter.
5 Reasons Not To Buy an Electric Composter (Lomi or FoodCycler)
1. It’s Hard To Use the Output from Electric Composters
On the surface, the story of electric composting sounds quite appealing. We imagine sprinkling the “finished compost” on houseplants and vegetable gardens. Doesn’t it sound romantic?
But this isn’t how it actually works. The output from electric composters like the Lomi and the FoodCycler aren’t actually compost. For the most part, they are dried-out, ground-up food scraps.
The FoodCycler is pretty forthcoming about the finished product. They disclose that the output, called Foodilizer, needs to rest in bare soil for several weeks before adding around plants to be effective. Essentially, the microbes in the soil need to “compost” and digest the dried-out, ground-up food scraps before they become soil nutrients, much like the process of regular composting.
The Lomi claims to create a finished compost equivalent when you use their LomiPods (at least this is how I interpret their messaging). I made several batches of finished products from the Lomi with and without the LomiPods. The LomiPods make something more similar-ish to finished compost, but it’s a far cry from the nutrient-rich soil amendment that’s the output of well-managed composting.
Both Outputs Need Time To Cure
No matter which electric composter you use, both outputs need some time to cure in bare soil. Lomi might dispute this but I don’t believe them. Just look at the finished products.
Do you really intend to sprinkle any of those on your everyday houseplants? Surely these outputs have some nutrients in them that eventually could benefit the soil, but it’s not a simple one-step process to actually use the output from electric composters.
Furthermore, these all still smell like food. A scratch-and-sniff screen would be great right now, but technology isn’t quite there yet. Believe me when I tell you that these each have a slight odor that I don’t think would bode well sitting on top of indoor houseplant soil.
Even if people can use it on houseplants or gardens (if they have a space for it to cure), how much do they really need? At some point, haven’t they “fertilized” everything enough for a while?
I’ve asked several people who have these machines how they use the output. Very few people have great answers. There are far more stories that end with “well… sometimes I compost it but sometimes, I guess I just throw it in the trash… because I’m not really sure what to do with it.”
I shared an entire post on all the ways to use Lomi “compost” (which also applies to FoodCycler Foodilizer) and then explained why I think most of them are silly or pointless. Definitely check out that full post to figure out how you’d actually use the electric composter finished product – regularly and sustainably – before buying a Lomi, a FoodCycler, or any other electric composter.
I think most people won’t actually do anything with the finished product except toss it in a green bin, a compost pile, or a trash bin most of the time. This is precisely where the food scraps would likely end up anyway without being processed by the electric composter.
And if that’s the case, what’s the point of buying the thing, letting the thing take up space in your home, using energy to run the thing, and eventually disposing of the thing when it doesn’t actually have a large impact on where food waste ends up?
This is my biggest criticism of the machines. When we don’t actually put the end product to good use or the machine doesn’t materially change the waste stream, it’s not worth the money or the resources used to make and run the machine.
Beyond this, most people don’t really need any more reasons not to buy the Lomi, the FoodCycler, or any other electric composter. But for those who may actually use the finished product in a useful way that they don’t have access to without the machine, here are some other reasons to consider that might further give you pause before investing in these supposedly eco-friendly appliances.
2. Electric Composters are Expensive
The Lomi and the FoodCycler are both pretty expensive. At the time of this post, the Lomi cost $500 while the FoodCycler costs $400. That price is not accessible for most people. I know Lomi and FoodCycler are not necessities and will have certain audiences who can afford the machines. But even if you can afford one of them, I think there are other options that are better.
I went into greater detail in my review of the FoodCycler FC-50. But in short, a compost pickup service is available in many urban and suburban areas. A service is much easier to use, more effective, and will take years to equal the cost of either machine.
If you have a neighbor who composts, ask to drop your scraps in their bin. They’ll probably say yes. And if you have a bit of space, I’d choose a Subpod or traditional compost bin like the SoilSaver over an electric composter in most instances.
Related Reading: Top 5 Easiest Ways To Compost At Home
3. Electric Composters Take Up a Lot of Space
Both the FoodCycler and the Lomi take up a substantial amount of counter space. I don’t keep either in our kitchen for this reason. Electric composters can work for anyone, but they seem to be designed particularly for people who don’t have outdoor space to compost themselves. Given their footprint, I definitely don’t see them being a great option for people living in apartments or other small spaces.
4. Electric Composters are Kind of Noisy
The Lomi and FoodCycler both run for several hours; usually between 4 and 8 hours per cycle depending on the mode that you use. Both have a noticeable humming motor sound that’s pretty annoying, especially if you live in a small space or have to stay near the machine while it’s running. Some of the Lomi modes are especially loud.
When I run it, I make sure it’s in a room that we aren’t using. If you’re a light sleeper, you also may not want to run it overnight if it’s in a room near where you sleep.
5. Lomi Compost & FoodCycler Foodilizer Still Smell Enough To Attract Animals
Some people have asked me if an electric composter might help people compost in bear country. Bears are quite smart and they have an extraordinary sense of smell. They are happy to eat our trash instead of foraging for their own food if we make it accessible to them. For a variety of reasons related to human safety and bear safety, it’s really important that humans don’t feed bears (even out of our trash cans).
Because of the aroma from compost bins, it’s a bit tougher to compost using traditional methods in bear country without attracting the bears. Some have wondered if using an electric composter before throwing food waste into a compost bin might reduce the smell and make composting more accessible. I don’t think this is a great idea.
The output still smells a bit like food. Depending on what you process, the smell may be pretty strong. I composted some leftover fish scraps in the Lomi, and it smelled very much like fish after going through the machine.
At one point, I sprinkled Foodilizer under mulch in my garden. The very next morning, I found a mess of mulch that had certainly been the victim of a voracious raccoon following its nose. Raccoons were common visitors to my compost bin until I locked them, so I wasn’t surprised by the mess. But if raccoons smell the scent and assume it’s good, I suspect bears will do the same. In short, electric composter processing probably doesn’t ease the complexity of composting in bear country.
And even if you don’t live in bear country, you’ve probably got sly raccoons who will be plenty curious if you don’t adequately bury the dried and ground food scraps.
Lomi vs. FoodCycler
While I don’t recommend buying either of them in most cases, I also don’t think one is clearly better than the other.
The Lomi (supposedly) can process compostable plastics while the FoodCycler does not do this. But you need to pay extra for special LomiPods to do this. It also doesn’t work that well in my experience.
The FoodCycler is a bit quieter than the Lomi but neither is especially pleasant. I don’t think there’s a clear winner here.
Aesthetically, the Lomi is probably slightly better (depending on the aesthetic of your home, I suppose) but it also has a slightly larger footprint. No obvious winner on this matter either.
When you use the LomiPods, the output from the Lomi looks slightly better and closer to real finished compost. But a comparison to compost for either of the outputs is generous. Neither machine has an ideal output that feels useful on a regular and sustainable basis.
In the end, the Lomi might be a slight winner if I had to buy one today, but it’s also $100 more expensive. If you can, save your money or pay someone else to compost for you or just do it yourself without an expensive machine.
Is Pela more greenwashing than green?
I also have some reservations about Pela, the company that owns the Lomi brand. Pela makes compostable cell phone cases. I really like their cell phone cases, and they compost in a backyard bin as promised. My first Pela phone case became worm lunch long ago.
But for many months (maybe over a year now?), Pela has run a promotion to buy one cell phone case and get a second one for free. For a company supposedly focused on sustainability, sending out twice the amount of product their customers need feels really offputting to me. It seems like a red flag for greenwashing.
Of course, some people will share that second case with someone else who will use and love it. But most people won’t, especially because that other person would have to have the same phone model as them. Many people really don’t need two cell phone cases. And because most people get new phone models after a few years, the second case won’t fit their new phone when they upgrade, so they can’t really “save it for later.”
I’d much rather see Pela make their prices lower and more accessible instead of sending off free phone cases that will sit in closets, get tossed in landfills, or maybe land in a compost bin if we’re lucky.
Pela also launched a massive marketing campaign to spread the word about Lomi. I don’t know how much they spent, but they showed up all over the place (at least in my corners of the Internet and social media). I know a lot of people had the same experience because they came to me with questions about the product months before it was even manufactured.
If it’s such a revolutionary product, won’t it sort of sell itself? Or maybe they could have offered a lower price point without such significant marketing spend? I’m not a marketing expert, so I won’t pretend to know the right answer. There’s definitely a case for investment in growth. But it all feels a lot like greenwashing to me.
While these aren’t direct reasons to dislike the Lomi machine, they make me question my trust in the brand and wonder how much greenwashing is built into their flashy electric composter.
The Final Verdict: Is an electric composter worth it?
I don’t think so. I just can’t recommend that someone buy an electric composter. I’m a composting nerd. I’ve tried composting in a SoilSaver compost bin (my very favorite outdoor compost bin), an open compost bin, a compost tumbler, and a chicken wire enclosure. I own a Subpod. I even run my own curbside composting service.
Having tried all of these composting methods, the electric composter is my absolute least favorite. It might be an unpopular opinion, but electric composters aren’t the future of food waste.
Do you have the Lomi or the FoodCycler? Do you use them regularly? I’d love to know how you like it and how you use the output. Was it a worthwhile investment? Let me know in the comments.
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About The Author
Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.
You can find more of her work at WasteWell, a company that provides composting resources and local curbside compost collection services, and Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.