For the past year I’ve realllllllllly been trying my hardest to reduce my waste + plastic usage since National Geographic came out with their Planet or Plastic campaign + I learned we’ve produced 9.2 billion tons of plastic since it was invented in the 1950’s where 6.9 billion tons have become waste + a staggering 6.3 billion tons have never made it to a recycling bin (+ into our ocean). In an attempt to do my part I purchased reusable metal straws (+ refuse plastic ones), reusable produce bags for when I go food shopping, buy in the bulk section using jars from home, carry bamboo utensils with me, + most recently started composting in my small apartment in NYC!
What is Composting?
It is decomposed organic matter like leaves, food scraps, paper, etc. that is turned into nutrient-rich soil for local farming, gardens + more instead of being sent to landfills + increasing greenhouse gas emissions!
I was honestly putting off composting because I kept thinking how the hell am I going to compost in my apartment in the middle of NYC without any outdoor space or even indoor space for a compost bin? Also, the idea of having worms in my apartment freaked me out! Well my friends, after doing more research + understanding that 20-30% of what we throw away is food scraps + 95% of those food scraps end up in landfills (that’s 38 million tons of food waste in 2014 alone), I’m here to tell you I found a very easy solution that involves minimal effort + no worms. 🙂
How I Compost
Most farmers markets, especially in large cities, have compost drop-offs where you just simply drop off your compost + they transport them to a compost site + compost it for you! In NYC alone there are 60 drop-off sites. Do a simple google search in your city or when you go to the farmers market ask your farmer. Tip: Farmers that sell eggs typically will accept compost because they use it to feed their chickens. Just ask!
I found a farmers market on my way to work that’s open on Wednesdays so now every Wednesday morning before work I leave 10 minutes earlier + drop off all my compost. It’s so easy + I love starting my day at the farmers market. There’s also helpful staff there that I usually chat with that give me tips (that I’m going to share with you).
But, since I only go once a week I needed a place to store the compost that was small, clean + didn’t smell. I did so.much.research. I knew I could just use a large plastic container with a lid + poke air holes but opted for a commercial compostable countertop compost bin since they are affordable + convenient with a charcoal filter. I picked this one since it was the only one I found that I could mount inside my cabinet but there are so many options out there! This bin is very popular as well + I know people who use + like it. I line my bin with a compostable bag for convenience + to prevent any mess or spillage!
Another option is that many people just keep a bag, bowl, Tupperware, etc. in their freezer that they add their food scraps to + this prevents mess, smell + is easy to store. My freezer is too small for this since I cook so much but when my bin is full + I’m going to compost in the next day or so I do keep watermelon rinds + other large food scraps in the freezer/fridge for short-term storage.
What To Compost
This depends on where you live + the drop-off location. NYC provides an outline of what’s accepted HOWEVER after speaking with the staff at my drop-off location I learned that although compostable plastics are on the “don’t bring” list that each location is different + mine actually does accept them, the bag just needs to be open so the machine can process it! So be sure to speak to the staff at your drop-off!
Below is a list of things, in general, that are compostable but be sure to speak to someone at your location specifically!
- Fruit + vegetable scraps (e.g. peels, pits, etc.)
- Coffee grounds, filters, + paper tea bags (remove the staple from tea bags)
- Bread + grains
- Egg shells
- Food-soiled paper towels + napkins
- Shredded newspaper
- Sawdust + wood shavings from untreated wood
- Stale beans, flour, + spices
- Cut or dried flowers
- Houseplants + potting soil
- Feathers/fur from pets
- Nail clippings
- Old loofahs (cut up, natural only)
- Dust/lint from laundry
- Q-tips/cotton swabs that are made of cardboard, NOT plastic (don’t use plastic please – look at this image 🙁 )
- Cotton rounds or cotton balls (must be real cotton, not synthetic)
- Cardboard pizza boxes/takeout containers (soiled cardboard CANNOT be recycled but they can be composted!)
- Cardboard tampon applicators + even used tampons if 100% cotton
- Any items you purchase that are specifically biodegradable/compostable:
What NOT To Compost
These items usually attract animals/pests + don’t work as well so they’re best to keep out.
- Meat or fish scraps
- Cheese or dairy products
- Fats, grease, oil, or oily foods
- Pet food
- Pet feces/kitty litter
- Tags + rubber bands on fruits/vegetables
- Colored or glossy paper
- Sawdust made from pressure-treated plywood or lumber
- Coal or charcoal ashes
- Non-compostable materials like plastic, metals, or glass
- Diseased or insect-infested houseplants and soil
Composting was something that intimidated me but now that I started I realized how easy it is! It feels great to do my part + I hope I inspire someone to take the leap as well.
If you already compost please share your tips, I’d love to hear them + learn from you! And if you’re interested in other types of composting check this out. Love you ♥
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