The City Composting Guide
Updated: Mar 14, 2019
The way I viewed composting for years was the same frame of mind in which I looked at many eco-friendly switches: I wanted to do it, and knew it was beneficial, but couldn't bring myself to actually do it. I actually didn't even research it for a while.
Did I think that something would come along and smack the sense into me? Well, that's just what happened. I saw how little time we actually had left on many environmental issues - the Cape Cod shorelines diminishing along with the ice caps, the lack of snow days we had ever winter, the increase in hurricanes and tsunamis and more. I knew that there was not much time left to wait. The problem was, however, that I was living on land that I didn't own. I was always either living in dorms or apartments, and I thought you needed your own back yard to compost.
When I heard a wellness blogger say she drops off her compost at Whole Foods, I saw how easy it was. I began my composting journey that has featured many shining and less-glamorous moments. Highlights have been accidentally stinking up my kitchen, and sneaking my paper bag into Whole Foods, mysteriously rushing to the compost bin, hoping the smell of natural soap in the bath aisle covers up the faint smell of my kitchen scraps.
What held me back for so long was that I didn't have a backyard to compost in. Now that I know that you can drop off your compost somewhere that's convienient for you, I'm all for it!
Food scraps and yard waste make up 30% of what we throw away, but these should be composted. This way, we can greatly reduce our waste, and our overall carbon footprint.
I live in an city, and still compost. Yes, it's possible. That's why I want to share some tips with you on composting in a more developed environment. People that live in highly saturated areas should definitely be taking precautions to reduce their waste, as the areas they live in are some of the most highly polluted!
There's also the disenfranchisement for many communities, where just getting by is a struggle and is the top priority. Why should everyone care about composting, when we're just trying to get by? That is totally understandable. Composting is a great added bonus, but if you can't, even just small amounts of reducing, reusing and recycling can help - at whatever speed works for you.
How do you compost in the city?
I keep my compost in this bin, it uses carbon filters to keep the smell out. If you're composting in the city, you will most likely be dropping off your compost either at a store that then composts it, like Whole Foods, or a community farm or co op that has a compost pile. Find a local store near you, or look into CSA's, community farms, co-ops, urban farms or community development non profits near you for a pile to contribute to.
You may also buy a compost tumbler that helps you make your own compost. You can mix your essential ingredients for compost in here: browns (dirt and leaves), greens (veggies) and water. I would only do this if you lived in an apartment with a little bit of a garden, or it's nor worth it. You really need room for the tumbler, and somewhere to use the compost. They're also pricier than just getting a $20 bin and dropping yours off. Here and two options: one from Miracle Gro and a more generic, cheaper but highly rated one.
As I mentioned, you can bring your compost to Whole Foods. I'm not going to leave that as the only option, because going there is not a reality for many. You can also drop it off at some Home Depot stores. Check what local stores, farms, schools or community gardens near you need it. You can also find official government drop off points here.
What to NOT compost
Fish & meat
Glossy, coated or dyed paper
Nuts and shells take long to break down
This is pretty self-explanatory. The softer and closer to the earth, the more compostable.
Benefits of composting
You SAVE money! Trash is a utility, and you spend less of garbage bags because you're reducing your waste by a third
You feel good about doing something for the environment
I treat my compost bin like a Rachael-Ray style "garbage bucket" to throw my scraps in while I'm cooking. That means, it makes cooking clean up easier!
I always thought that composting was something I would look into when I had "more time". Turns out, I only needed a place to store my compost scraps and a place to drop them off. I'd love to know if you have composted or plan to, leave a comment or e-mail me!