Composting is easy in the suburbs

October 17, 2019

Composting. Yep. I’m about to go all hippie gardener on you. 

Actually, I can’t keep a plant alive and I flee from flying insects. Embarrassing! I know. 

The only rational explanation I have is that I’m allergic to beestings. Running has kept me alive for thirty one years. It’s a real miracle.

What is composting?

Composting is a way to recycle your food scraps back into the earth, creating nutrient rich soil and reducing methane emissions that occur when food scraps are sent to the landfill.

To keep it simple, when food is trapped in the landfill, where there isn’t much oxygen, it releases methane as it breaks down. Methane is one of the troublesome gases contributing to global warming, due to its heat trapping capabilities. It is roughly 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. 

Natural gas and coal are the bad boys we love to hate, but less often talked about are the other two biggies: animal agriculture and landfills. Trash and toots.

Composting sounds complicated, but it’s not.

When I first heard about composting, I thought – that’s a thing for people with overalls, big backyards and time. I was ill equipped. Then, I discovered an organization in Bedford, NY that started a community drop-off for food scraps. It sounded easy, but I was still intimidated.

When we moved to Connecticut last fall, I was ready and determined to compost. Cue google storm. You guys, I should work for google because I’m always talking about googling. 

It turns out composting in the suburbs isn’t as fringe as I imagined. I found a local composting program and signed up. 

No yard, no problem! They give you a composting container, you put your food scraps in it and they pick it up every week.

Composting makes you feel good, too.

It makes me feel like an environmental champion to throw my food scraps into the compost bucket instead of into a plastic trash bag, bound for the landfill.

The company I use is called Curbside Compost. If you live in Fairfield or Westchester County, check them out. Get your planet saving endorphins on. It’s so easy. 

Teaching kids about composting

My super-strong helper, carrying the new compost bin into the house.

My two year old, Rowan, is very concerned about where our food scraps go. He insists on putting the peels and stems in our compost bowl when we’re cooking. When it’s time to empty it into the bin, he says, “Mommy, I want to dump it.” When pickup day rolls around, he helps us carry the bin outside for collection and hulks the clean bin inside. He takes the opportunity to talk about how big and strong he is.

Rowan sometimes shouts at the compost man when he takes our scraps away. It’s equal parts hilarious and sweet. He cares about where they go. I teach him that we send our food scraps back to the dirt where they came from. It feels great to compost, but it feels even better knowing that Rowan is paying close attention.

Q&A 

Does the compost bin smell bad?

Not usually. We only eat plant-based food and it doesn’t smell weird when it sits in the bin for a few days to a week. If something spoils, keep it in the refrigerator or freezer until compost pickup day to spare your nostrils. We keep our bin under the sink for convenience, but you could keep it outside if you’re concerned about odors.

Will the compost bin attract animals?

If you worry about animals getting into your compost bin outside, you can keep the bin in your home or garage until collection day. I don’t think there is more risk of animal invasion than there is with your normal trash can. The only difference is your compost bin doesn’t have a plastic bag in it and only contains food scraps. Plus, if an animal gets into your bin and eats your scraps, you’re feeding a furry friend while still keeping the scraps out of the landfill.

Can I compost without using a service?

Hey, if you have the land and the time to compost at home, do it and then tell me all your secrets. That’s my dream. Someday, I’ll figure out how to keep plants alive to grow my own food and then compost my scraps.

I’d love to hear about your experience with composting or what’s holding you back from getting started.

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