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Curbside Composting: A Valuable Community Service

Curbside Composting: A Valuable Community Service

This past spring, my family and I were able to get all the compost we needed for our vegetable garden from a local community’s compost pile at their department of public works. The compost was created from all of the leaves and yard clippings that had been collected curbside. Many communities collect leaves, clippings and other outside organic matter to turn into compost, but some communities are taking it a step further.

Cities such as San Francisco, Minneapolis, Toronto, and Boulder all have programs in place that allow residents to place food scraps curbside to be turned into compost.

Food that is mixed in with regular trash is estimated to make up about 40% of the trash in landfills. It also is the biggest offender in creating landfill methane which is a powerful greenhouse gas – 72 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Reducing landfill methane is just one of the benefits of keeping this type of waste out of landfills.

Curbside composting’s many benefits include:

  • saving money by reducing trash to landfill service and thereby lowering garbage bills;
  • conserving valuable organic resources by returning organic matter and nutrients to the soil;
  • reducing climate warming gases from landfills and reducing the risk of potential groundwater pollution
  • extending the life of our landfill by saving space

Since it is not possible for everyone to compost in their home, curbside composting programs like these are valuable community services. I’m going to bringing up the idea at my town’s next Green Team meeting. Right now, my community does pick up vegetative waste but it is limited to things like “grass clippings, sticker balls, acorns, pine cones and viney type materials such as ivy, honey-suckle, poison ivy, laurel and plant clippings.” I wonder what would need to be changed to include food waste in the can that is provided to collect these other things. If you think this would work in your community, contact your department of public works to see how you can help implement a curbside composting program.

Does your city already offer curbside composting? Do you think it is a good idea? Share your comments below.

Green Options Media is a network of environmentally-focused blogs providing users with the information needed to make sustainable choices. Written by experienced professionals, Green Options Media’s blogs engage visitors with authoritative content, compelling discussions, and actionable advice. We invite anyone with questions, or simply curiosity, to add their voices to the community, and share their approaches to achieving abundance.

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By Robin Shreeves, Green Options

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6:02AM PDT on Mar 9, 2014

thank you

11:03PM PST on Nov 7, 2013

more cities should do this

2:45PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

Our city only collects yard waste, but with a landfill that has been burning for months and emitting a terrible odor that affects the poor residents who live near it, I'm sure the city leaders and citizens would love the idea. I plan to look into it. Thank you!

8:54AM PDT on Apr 3, 2011

Herman Cain for US president!

7:25AM PST on Mar 4, 2011

Great idea, never heard of it. Don't think it happens here.

6:54PM PST on Feb 28, 2011

Oh great. Put your food scraps out to be composted. Make a paradise for rats--not to mention the smell. GAG!

9:16AM PST on Feb 28, 2011

Many cities still aren't composting. We can begin to make a difference in our communities first by getting our schools to compost all the leftover food typically dumped off our kids' lunch trays. We can encourage voluntary programs where volunteers pick up compostable materials from restaurants and grocery stores and take them to a suitable site for composting. Eventually, as more businesses and people adopt composting as part of their participation in the community, it should prove easier getting city councils to approve citywide composting measures.

3:32AM PST on Feb 28, 2011

Our leaves and yard clippings are picked up, but I don't know what happens to them...this is a great idea to pass on to city...

11:37AM PST on Jan 10, 2010

We live outside Minneapolis and have friends in San Francisco and hear wonderful things about both programs. Wish we could do curbside, but we try to do as much as possible weather permitting (tough in winter).

considering worm composting which can be done indoors -- and in apartments, too.

question for anyone who might have evidence. I assume if food cannot be composted, it would be better to be run in a garbage disposal rather than put into landfill --- from a methane creation/global warming perspective????

1:07AM PST on Dec 17, 2009

Does this actually reduce methane emissions? It seems, based on the lack of detail in the article, that the same amount of methane would be produced whether the organic waste was sitting in a compost pile or a landfill. Why wouldn’t that be true?
vitamin b6

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