The city’s universal curbside organics collection pilot in Queens has yielded more than 1 million pounds of food and yard waste in just two weeks of operation, diverting the refuse from landfills to instead be turned into nutritious, earthy compost.
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I recently hosted a backyard barbecue at my apartment in Brooklyn. I put out three containers for waste: A trash can, a recycling bin and a compost bin. As my friends helped me clean up at the end of the night, I learned that we had very different ideas of what was compostable. Vegetable scraps? Definitely compostable. But what about meat? Used paper plates? Paper towels?
The Lomi home composter from Pela has caught a lot of attention with extensive marketing on social networks. More than 100,000 have sold to date, according to Pela. We spent two months working with this attractive countertop unit. While it is expensive, our testing found that it consistently delivered a significant environmental benefit compared to sending food and other compostable waste to a landfill by more than 50% — Lomi earned our Greener Shopping Difference Maker designation.
“How do I compost?” might sound like a simple question, but the answers can branch out and multiply like the running roots of a plant. To help break it all down for those just starting out, we spoke with five experts about how to start composting—no matter where you live.
Lillian Summers grows rosemary, daikon and curly kale in a formerly abandoned lot in Bedford-Stuyvesant, powered by recycled food waste. By chopping up a balance of nitrogen-rich kitchen scraps, or “greens,” and carbon-rich materials like dried leaves, or “browns,” and slowly cycling the mixture through four bins, Summers and her neighbors create a soil-like substance that smells earthy and sweet.
Local governments will make compost more accessible for farmers, helping them retain water and fight drought. But it’s not clear that cities and private waste management companies can keep up with all of the green waste.
There were good reasons Domingo Morales, a city kid from the Bronx, didn’t want to try his hand at urban farming. He was terrified of germs. He thought vegetables were disgusting. Plus, everyone knows the ground in New York City is shot through with lead.
If you have a yard, you can compost easily. If you don’t, you can still compost in a small designated space. In California, you might hear people talking about composting more frequently. Why? Because a new law requires Californians to recycle their food scraps and other leftovers.
Sometimes she’d just toss a bell pepper into the bushes, figuring it would decompose and feed the greenery. But that wasn’t a comprehensive solution. Then she tried washing unused veggies down the drain, knowing they’d be converted to reusable gas at the city’s sewage treatment plant. But massive downloads of greens, even ground up in a blender, clogged the drain in her Studio City apartment.
The howls on social media have been fierce since the state started mandating that food waste stay out of garbage destined for the landfill. But here’s a confession from a longtime composter: Putting food waste in a separate kitchen receptacle is a no-brainer that actually feels good because it’s such an easy way to improve the world.