Once you start putting your food scraps in a separate container from your trash, you can’t go back to filling landfills with what could create topsoil and healthier food. Once you start composting, the amount you throw away decreases yet more — after you presumably started recycling, after you presumably reduced your consumption.
You become more aware of food packaging you can’t compost. I’ve noticed that the less healthy a “food product” is the more packaging it seems to have.
What is composting? Composting is using old scraps like banana peels and corn cobs for fertilizer by letting them decompose. Since plants tend to be made of materials good for other plants to make themselves out of, compost is useful for growing healthier plants. It puts back into the soil some of what you got out of it to eat. Not composting means filling landfills with stuff that could be healthy and using fossil fuels for what compost could do. Composting makes you healthy instead of polluting. Simple enough?
In practice for me, composting means putting scraps in a separate container from trash and recyclables. Once I have enough, I carry them to the people who collect it (see below) and they take it from there. My mom and sister have gardens, so I think they just put their scraps in a pile outside and use it as fertilizer after it decomposes.
(By the way, does everybody know the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” is an ordered list? That is, while recycling something pollutes less than putting recyclable material into a landfill or littering, it is less effective than reusing that thing, which, in turn, is less effective than not using the thing in the first place — that is, reducing consumption. Compost reduces consumption of fossil-fuel-based fertilizer and reuses food scraps.)
Anyway, after asking a couple years ago where I could bring my scraps closer than Union Square, I switched to the Abington Square farmer’s market composting station. They only collect on Saturday mornings, but they tell me they’ve at least graduated from pilot program to permanent.
This week the New Yorker posted a short video on composting (click the link to see it if the video doesn’t show up below) in New York City I enjoyed.
If you don’t have a yard to compost in and vegetable garden to compost for, I’m sure if you ask around you’ll find ways to compost.
You’ll be glad you did. Then you can be a leader in garbage too.
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