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Urban Composting: Save the Big Apple (Core)

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You might think that New Yorkers (or Manhattanites, at least) would be hard pressed to compost, but it’s easier than you think. You don’t need a backyard or worms wriggling in your kitchen (although if you want worms, the city has a program— NYC Compost Project).

Greenmarkets offer drop-off composting in all five boroughs. Also, many community gardens and other sites accept food scraps. I keep fruit and vegetable scraps in my freezer (in a handy open container in the door and, once that gets too full, in a plastic bag). Once or twice a week, I dump it at my local Greenmarket. Very satisfying! I re-use the bag as long as I can.

You may also recycle clothing and textiles at certain Greenmarkets through GrowNYC which offers workshops, school tours, volunteer opportunities, gardening, and cooking classes. You can visit your compost at work at the Teaching Garden on Governors Island.

The city has started a pilot program for curbside collection of food and yard scraps on a larger scale, starting with schools, institutions, and some residential areas (although the program is still a work in progress).

So if you’re in NYC (or elsewhere, nearly 100 cities have similar programs) and not composting, give it a try. Do your part to save the earth — and have less stinky garbage.

DSNY NYC Recycles has more on composting and other efforts, such as swaps, safe disposal events, used clothing collection, and electronics recycling. Acceptable for NYC compost centers: “Fruit and vegetable scraps, non-greasy food scraps (rice, pasta, bread, cereal etc.), coffee grounds & filters, tea bags, egg and nut shells, pits, cut or dried flowers, houseplants and potting soil. Please NO meat, chicken, fish, greasy food scraps, fat, oil, dairy, animal waste, litter or bedding, coal or charcoal, coconuts, diseased and/or insect-infested houseplants/soil or biodegradable/compostable plastics.”

—Martha Wilkie

Martha Wilkie is a stay-at-home mom and historic preservationist by training. She also served as project manager for The Real Food Cookbook.

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