COMPOSTING IN THE CITY
Composting can seem complicated and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be, even if we live in the middle of a city. Composting is the process of recycling food waste and plant-based recyclables in order to reduce our waste and put nutrients back into the earth. After thoroughly decomposed, everything we compost turns into nutrient-rich fertiliser for new plants, helps sequester carbon and benefits the Earth in many other ways.
Diverting our food waste from landfills has a positive impact on the environment. When food and plant scraps sit under piles at landfills they are deprived of oxygen and can’t decompose properly, causing methane emissions, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide.
There are several parts of fresh foods we don’t consume and thus throw away, like broccoli stems and apple cores. Just like us, compost thrives when it’s fed a wide variety of plant-based nutrients. Here are some things it needs, and doesn’t need:
Add : fruit and vegetable scraps, bread and grains, coffee grounds, eggshells, nutshells, houseplant clippings, leaves and grass, pine needles, unbleached paper and napkins, newspaper, straw, sawdust.
Don’t add : produce stickers, animal products, meat, fish, dairy, whole eggs, bones, animal poop or cat litter, grease and food cooked in oil
HOW TO COMPOST
The cleanest, easiest way to save compost scraps until taking them to a compost pile is to keep them in a bucket in the freezer. This eliminates risk of smell, risk of bugs, and the thawing process will help jumpstart decomposition when added to the compost pile. If there’s not enough room in the freezer, an enclosed tupperware in the fridge or under the sink is also possible.
Add food scraps to the bucket for a week or two, then take the bucket to a compost pile. If you have a backyard or space for it by the outside garbage bins, larger compost buckets can be kept outside to decrease trips to the compost pile.
WHERE TO COMPOST
So where can we take our compost scraps? Local recycling centres sometimes accept compost scraps for their pile, just call them or visit their website to see what day and time scraps can be dropped off. Some companies even offer curbside compost collection, just like they do for garbage and recycling waste.
Give your local council a call and request a food waste bin!
Garden centres and plant nurseries also compost to create nutrient-rich fertiliser for the plants they grow. Give your local garden centre a call to see if you can bring them your scraps.
Some grocery stores, like Whole Foods, have compost bins either in their food buffet area, or in their back rooms. If there isn’t one in plain view, just ask the staff where it is and if it’s okay to bring your compost from home.
ShareWaste is an online compost-sharing platform that connects people accepting compost and people with compost scraps (operating in the USA).
Different places accept different compost materials – for example, some may accept egg shells and animal poop, while others may not – so give them a call first to ensure you are providing the proper scraps. If you truly can’t find a compost pile, don’t be afraid to add food scraps to the Earth, by placing around the base of trees and bushes, or leaving them in the forest away from people and homes. The most important thing is to avoid throwing food scraps in the trash!
SOME MORE NOTES
Treating the source of the problem can also help reduce our waste, such as:
Put smaller portions on our plates to avoid leftovers
Practice mindful grocery planning to avoid spoiled produce
Learn about ‘best by’ dates on food
Eat more plant-based foods, as animal-based foods need much more resources to produce
Don’t remove the edible (+ fiber-rich) skins of some produce before eating, such as apples, pears, kiwis, carrots and potatoes. Challenge the things we were taught about food!
Giving our food a second chance to feed us and the Earth is a powerful way to decrease our negative environmental impacts on the world. Thank you for all that you do!
Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Compost Impacts https://ilsr.org/compost-impacts-2/
Wasted Documentary http://www.wastedfilm.com/
Just Eat It Documentary http://www.foodwastemovie.com/
This post was contributed by Adelle Goodman, @adellegoodman