Feb 10, 2023 • Emmeline Clein
We all know we should be composting, but we also know that saving your food scraps for composting can seem daunting (and a little gross) at first. Luckily, we are here to give you the low down on what you can compost, how to store it, where to drop it off, and how you can get even more involved in New York’s composting community.
In New York City, uneaten food makes up 21% of our total waste, so composting can cut down your total landfill contribution by over a fifth! Composting ensures that your food waste ends up as fertilizer for urban farms and gardens, or contributing to renewable energy production.
Any and all food scraps! That includes everything from your leftover Chinese foods to your orange peels and apple cores. You can also compost food-soiled paper (as in the wax paper your bacon, egg and cheese came wrapped in).
The easiest way to store compost is keeping it in a large plastic zipper bag in your freezer. NYC wants to help us compost – Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the NYC Department of Sanitation are currently running a joint project to educate New Yorkers on the how and why of composting. At Brooklyn Botanic Garden, you can check out the Composting Exhibit to see organic waste in various stages of decomposition, so you aren’t freaked out by the bag of compost in your own freezer once you start doing it yourself.
There are dropoff locations in every borough! This map will show you the ones closest to you. In Manhattan, all buildings are eligible to sign up for curb-side organic waste collection through this NYC.gov portal, so you might not even have to go to a dropoff site. Ask your super to sign your building up! If you live in Brooklyn or Queens, the majority of community boards have made their areas eligible, but you can find out for sure here. If you have a collection bin for curbside pickup, make sure to put your organic waste outside after 4PM the night before your collection day.
If you want to see where your compost might go after it leaves your home, you can volunteer at the Red Hook Community Farm, which uses NYC compost as fertilizer. The farm takes drop in volunteers on Saturdays between 10am and 1pm, so you can get some volunteering in without having to plan in advance the next time you have a few hours free on a lazy Saturday.