Monday, April 6, 2009
Urban gardening has inspired me to become an urban composter. I started out composting my garden waste, stems, leaves, flowers, roots last summer. As I pruned and picked, I realized I was creating a lot of waste. I needed to recycle all that green. Since Mitch wasn't into the smell of compost wafting across the terrace, I decided to start hauling my garden gunk to the Union Square Green Market on Saturdays, where a nonprofit, the Lower East Side Ecology Center, collects the waste in giant plastic tubs. The group uses the compost to feed its worm farm. Worms devour the compost and turn it into rich soil, which is sold for a few bucks a bag.
Though I started with leaves and stalks, I have since expanded my recycling to table scraps. Now, I collect pretty much all of our vegetable waste. I collect cucumber, carrot and onion skin, lettuce and pepper cores, tea bags, egg shells, banana peels and orange rinds. It's amazing how much vegetable waste two people can accumulate over the course of a week. The only thing verboten is meat and dairy. I guess the worms are vegetarians. I store the compost in the fridge all week in a strong plastic bag and tote it to the market on my bicycle on the weekend. If I can't get to the market, I freeze the stuff so it doesn't get too smelly.
I feel good about doing composting. Of course, I'm hardly alone. Each week the center collects leftovers from hundreds of New Yorkers, turning it to soil, instead of landfill. And the more the merrier. Do you compost? Would you consider it??