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Composting 101:
Putting Kitchen Scraps to Good Use

2011 July 15


By Kasia Broussalian

Two women empty out their recent food scraps, plant remains, wood chips, etc, into compost bins outside of the Greenmarket at Union Square in New York City. Hosted by the Lower East Side Ecology Center, volunteers place compost bins on the northeast side of the market every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The decomposition of these biodegradable materials creates a nutrient-rich soil that is excellent to use in household plants and gardens.  On average, New Yorkers throw out two pounds of food per day, amounting to over 3,000 pounds that then must be trucked to landfills. Once at the landfill, biodegradable materials breakdown in the absence of oxygen to create methane. Methane gas, along with the transportation, impacts climate change. Do you compost? If not, what would it take to get you started?

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Abbey permalink
    July 15, 2011

    I don’t compost, though I wish I could! A compost bin at my residence isn’t an option since I don’t have access to any outdoor area other than the fire escape, and there’s simply no public infrastructure that could otherwise deal with it. If you’re in the gray area between living in Manhattan (where you can drop off your compost at the greenmarkets) and having a lawn in the suburbs, there’s no feasible way to deal with compostable waste other than minimizing it where possible.

    I wish that cities felt more pressure to take responsibility for food waste like San Fransisco: http://www.sfenvironment.org/our_programs/topics.html?ti=6
    but in most places it’s far more economical to ship waste out to rural dumps and forget about it than to worry about closing the cycle. Until then I think that private companies and workplaces (::ahem:: EPA NYC office!) should set an example of how easy it can be to collect biodegradable waste and use it effectively.

    • Kasia permalink
      July 18, 2011

      Thanks for commenting, Abbey. Composting without a yard or access to the city’s greenmarkets is a challenge, but not impossible! The Lower East Side Ecology Center offers workshops and a do-it-yourself explanation on how to compost indoors using worms. It takes about three weeks and three pounds of food scraps per week, and can be done right under your kitchen sink. Check it out here

  2. July 19, 2011

    Thank you for featuring us on the blog! One correction – the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s stand in the greenmarket is setup and run by our paid staff. Funding for the program comes from individuals making donations, the sale of our compost and potting soil, and foundations.

    On a less technical note, lots of people in NYC have had success with having a worm bin in their home. We sell a 19″ x 16″ x 12″ bin (or you can make your own) and also worms to get the bin started. It doesn’t smell, it doesn’t attract bugs, and your house plants will LOVE the compost you make.

  3. October 2, 2011

    It is important to know the value of scraps. Though they are just a waste but then there other things that they will be useful. Scraps are given attention, because they use are important resources.

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