Friday, July 29, 2011


Food scraps make up about 25% of the waste produced in New York City.  Unfortunately, when organic waste ends up in solid waste landfills it decays into methane.  Methane is a pretty potent greenhouse gas that does even more damage than carbon dioxide.  On top of that, transporting organic waste from New York City to landfills costs us taxpayers a pretty big penny.  One of the great ways to decrease the amount of organic waste ending up in our landfills is by composting.

Composting has many great benefits.  One being the obvious reduction of organic material clogging up our landfills.  Another is that it is great for our gardens.  Compost collected by the city of New York is made available to local nonprofits for soil mitigation, habitat improvement and in many of the community gardens you see all over the city.

Check the GrowNYC site for food scrap composting drop off sites at Green Markets all over the city until December 31.  Some of these sites collect beyond December 31st.  Check with your local drop off point to see if they collect beyond that date.   Just about any food scrap can be composted from leftover rice and banana peels to coffee grounds and teabags to that houseplant that just didn't make it.  Please be sure to leave the following out because they cannot be composted: meat, chicken, fish, greasy food scraps, fat, oil, dairy, dog or cat waste, kitty litter, coal or charcoal, coconuts, diseased and/or insect-infested houseplants/soil or biodegradable/compostable plastics.

If you would rather make your own compost--purchasing compost at the garden center can get pretty pricey--you can do so at home with vermicomposting, a great teaching tool for kids, which involves using earthworms to create compost.  Check out directions here on how to produce your own vermicomposting bin.  There are also some great pointers here from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.  The Lower East Side Ecology Center frequently has workshops for as low as $10 on making your own worm bin.

If worms are just not your thing, try creating your own compost bin in your backyard--if you have one.  New York's Department of Environmental Conservation has info here on creating a backyard compost bin.  And check the Planet Green website for pointers on smaller scale compsting for inside apartments. also has information on composting larger things like Christmas trees, fall leaves and lanscaper waste.  And if you're worried about the expense of purchasing a compost bin or any other composting supplies, the city sells low cost bins and other supplies for New York City residents here.

So get out there and get composting!

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