Every week we send potential brown gold off to landfills in the trash we set at the curb. The EPA estimates that approximately 30 percent of our waste is compostable food scraps and yard waste. With little cost, we can take action to reduce and repurpose this waste. First step, start with mindful shopping practices to stop food waste at the source. Next, take care to store food in appropriate conditions to keep perishables fresh until their intended use. And instead of trashing fruit and veggie peelings, etc., if space permits, set up a composting “station” in your yard to enable the conversion of those organic wastes into nutrient rich compost. This rich soil amendment has the additional benefit of reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. Reducing organic waste sent to landfills also helps to reduce their methane gas emissions. Win – win for us all.
It’s easy to get started. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Bin or Box (commercially available or easily constructed)
- Green material (lawn clippings, plant materials, vegetable and fruit waste, etc.)
- Brown material (dead leaves, straw, wood chips, shredded paper, etc)
Locate your compost area in a dry shady spot in your yard which has easy access to a water source. Start depositing alternate layers of greens (nitrogen) and layers of browns (carbon). Add water to provide the moisture needed to break waste into organic material. Rule of thumb: keep your compost pile about as moist as a damp sponge. Add additional brown materials if your compost pile is too wet. Turn in the brown materials once deposited. To keep your compost pile “working” during winter months, insulate its outer perimeter with straw or leaves. Adding a cover will help control moisture levels during this time of year. Again, you can manage wetness by turning in additional brown materials as needed.
There are numerous resources for information on how to successfully compost. A few we found to be helpful:
Cornell’s Do’s and Don’ts of Composting
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
No space to compost or gardens to amend? No problem, alternatives are available:
NYS Food Scrap Drop-Off & Residential Collection Services
Search Rochester to see Monroe County collection locations
Another option available in Monroe County:
We can make an impact in our immediate community. We can also reach out to influence government to take action on behalf of their constituents. See here a summary of recently enacted law in NYS:
January 2022 NYS Food Donation & Scraps Recycling Legislation