I was pissed that I didn’t have a compost bin when I moved to Brooklyn. Plenty of my friend’s buildings came with a distinctly brown trash can meant for recycling organic matter but mine was curiously absent. Finally settling in Brooklyn was supposed to signify a change for me. It was supposed to be my chance to realize the more human version of myself, to lend me the time and space necessary to foster a sense of community that Manhattan made so difficult. I had planned to take more walks, breathe more deeply, plant more plants, and naturally, start a compost. So where the hell was my bin?
As it turns out, you don’t need a bin to compost. That’s right. All you need is a container and a willingness to bring your compost to a collection site once it’s full. It may not be as convenient as someone coming to pick up your dead flowers, banana peels, coffee grinds, basil stems, or the scraped remains of your lunch, but it’s surely better than throwing all of that away, resigning it to languish in a landfill rather than being up-cycled for good use.
What is the point of composting, anyway? All of your leftover organic matter can be added to soil to help plants, trees, flowers, and other vegetation grow. According to the EPA, “food scraps and yard waste currently make up about 30% of what we throw away.” By composting, we keep all of that waste out of landfills where they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Sheesh!
Once I found out I didn’t need a proper compost bin to return my organic waste to the natural environment, I was thrilled. I considered purchasing a proper compost bin, but those will set you back anywhere from $20-$200. And did I really need to buy yet another thing, something that would just be thrown away eventually, in time?
A friend of mine pointed out just how easy it was to toss it all into a large Tupperware container. This was something I already had, that I had already washed and used and reused dozens of times. This same friend encouraged me to keep it in the freezer where the waste would never resort to stinking.
So, that’s what I did! I was excited to begin only in the way a sustainable nerd can relish a recycling opportunity. Every time I cooked dinner or cleaned up breakfast I would pull my container out of the freezer and marvel at the colorful collection of organic relics frozen in time, still as perfect as the day I discarded them. The only one that gave it all away was a banana peel, no longer a vibrant yellow but now a dusty black.
For the next two Saturdays in a row I missed my chance to dump my compost at the collection site at the Fort Green Park Farmer’s Market. I ended up taking it to the Union Square Farmer’s Market in Manhattan (open four days a week) where I pleasantly dumped my goods into a collection of much larger compost bins spotted with birds trying to peck their way at a snack. Was the irony that I brought my compost into Manhattan from Brooklyn lost on me? Hardly. But I was thankful to pick up some new fruits and veggies there for the rest of the week and left it at that.
Don’t live in New York? Not to fret. Google your city and find out where the closest farmer’s market operates. More than 8,600 exist nationwide.