Composting in the City 101 : Lower East Side Ecology Center Compost Drop Off

Nothing is as healthy for the planet like composting. I'm serious. Composting is one of the best ways for humans to manage food consumption, waste and give back to the Earth.

There are plenty of ways to compost in and around New York City and the surrounding area that does not include worms, or even getting your hands too dirty. Yes, it may involve not using your freezer for food items, but composting does involve some give and take.  Keeping that in mind, here is an easy option for those interested, but not willing to commit to a patch of compost in your back yard, or maybe you don't have a back yard, so your counter top.

Photo courtesy of http://blog.christinekern.com/

Photo courtesy of http://blog.christinekern.com/

Lower East Side Ecology Center Composting (Around NYC)

Since 1990, the Lower East Side Ecology Center has been offering recycling and composting options around NYC.  Offering compost drop off locations around NYC during Farmers Markets, they are one of the easiest ways to compost in New York!

Participants can drop off their kitchen scraps at 38 City-wide drop-off locations. The collected materials are transported to East River Park and processed in their in-vessel composting system. After three months, the finished compost makes its way back to the Union Square Greenmarket, where it is sold either as compost or as part of our potting soil mix.

Hours of access at the Union Square Greenmarket are 8am-4pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.  A full list of locations and hours is available on the Greenmarket website.

Acceptable for Composting:

  • All fruit and vegetable peelings and pits
  • Non-greasy food scraps or leftovers
  • Rice, pasta, bread, cereal, etc.
  • Coffee grounds with filter, tea bags
  • Hair and nails (animal or human)
  • Egg and nut shells
  • Cut or dried flowers, wreaths
  • Houseplants and potting soil

Not Acceptable for Composting:

  • Meat, chicken, and fish
  • Greasy food scraps or leftovers
  • Fats or oils
  • Dairy items (cheese, butter, yogurt, etc.)
  • Dog or cat feces, kitty litter
  • Coal or charcoal
  • Coconuts
  • Diseased and/or insect-infested houseplants and potting soil

This is the method I use and have been using since I discovered the option. While it can be a pain to carry the scraps weekly, or a few times a week, it is easier to do than to store them for one drop off.  If freezing the compost (see below), it will get heavy, so plan your drop off schedule accordingly.

I freeze my compost scraps to avoid bugs and smells, but if you plan on composting every day available, then you may not want to freeze. You'll notice as it gets warmer that freezing your  compost scraps is better.  If you make leftovers and store them in your freezer, this option may not be for you.  My freezer is usually empty, so it makes storing compost scraps a breeze! I use produce bags from the grocery store to store my scraps (I double bag them as I put coffee grinds in my compost and if there is any liquid it may leak out.)  Most drop off locations have bins for users to throw their used plastic bags and containers. I believe they are recycled. However, I'm not 100% certain where they go post drop off.

There are definitely messy elements to composting, but the benefits of composting are great. I hate the idea of throwing food out. And composting forces me to be aware of the things I buy and eat and the things I don't eat. You'd be surprised by how aware you become by composting and then carrying your scraps to be composted!

I encourage you to give this method a try if you're not too keen on having a bucket in your apartment, or don't have garden space to compost on your own. In my next article, we'll discuss in-home composting bins and outdoor composting. Stay tuned! 

If you compost now, please leave a comment and let us know your experience.  Again, we learn together - that's what makes us a community! 

Sara - S2 Stationery & Design

 

Loving the Earth - Celebrating Earth Day 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 will mark the 45th anniversary of Earth Day.  Are you ready?

                                                       Dog Tag Necklace by  DesignsbySky  on Etsy

                                                       Dog Tag Necklace by DesignsbySky on Etsy

Earth Day, while just one day, should not be limited to the one day; it should be reflected in our daily actions. 45 years later, Earth Day should really be Earth Awareness 365 days. 

Humans are the only creatures on the planet that do not use their intelligence to halt the proliferation of waste and destruction around us.  Okay, that's a wee bit harsh. There are some humans, many humans in fact, who are doing their best to stop the killing of animals, removing trash off of streets, beaches, water sources and play grounds, composting, dumpster diving and growing gardens, etc. I'm one of those people. And I can't tell you how many times I've had a person say to me, "your recycling makes up for my lack of recycling." I always shake my head at that.  No, unfortunately, it does not. While I may not buy lots of things, and attempt to recycle as much as I can, that doesn't make up for what keeps being generated. I'm making a small dent in a larger problem.

That's where all of you come in! As we prepare for Earth Day, I'd like to make suggestions events and things you can do to brush up on your earth awareness and celebrate Earth Day. Yes, we're talking about recycling and other thought provoking and action inducing activities, but that's part of the fun of getting out and seeing all that you can do to help tackle this important issue. 

To start, here are some movies, documentaries, that you might be interested in; I doubt you'll want to watch more than once, but maybe you can screen it at your apartment with friends and family, or recommend them to friends and family.  Either way,I hope you'll help bring Earth awareness to your life and those you love every day of the year, not just April 22 every year.

Films to Consider:

"Addicted to Plastic", 2008 - Available on Netflix

A really interesting film on plastic and the role it plays in our lives. It's also a great educational film about the history of plastic. I find the guy who created the film fascinating - anyone willing to spend two years learning about anything makes me excited!

"Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch", 2013 - Available on Netflix

I recently watched this film and was sickened by the conditions of the animals after ingesting plastic because they confuse it with food. I know this seems like a lot of movies about plastic, but our culture needs to open their eyes about the use of plastic and what the convenience of it is doing to the rest of the organisms that call Earth home.

"Food, Inc", 2008 - Available on Netflix

You may have seen this movie already. It was sort of a big deal when it came out. But this movie is still my trusted go to when discussing the food industry and it's impact on the environment.  Everything we eat is wrapped in packaging that may be just as unhealthy as the products themselves. You can not discuss environmental issues without discussing food and this movie makes the case.

"Trashed", 2012 - Available on Netflix DVD, http://www.trashedfilm.com/

Jeremy Irons narrates this amazing documentary that explores the amount of trash currently circulating the planet. He also gives us a window into the effects our trash has on our bodies. It's a really interesting film.

"Waste Land", 2010 - Available on Netflix

A film about art and changing the lives of trash pickers in one of the largest landfills in Brazil. This is not a story per se about environmentalism, but it shows the lives of people one would not think about when they think of Brazil. It's a beautiful story of hope and eye opening at the same time.

Now, what do you do after you watch these films?

Maybe, you'll decrease your plastic use, or will limit your trash creation? Maybe, you'll consider recycling more, or composting your food scraps? Maybe, you'll look into ways that your City is providing alternative trash collections?

Since we're a NY area focused blog, I'd like to suggest that you check out the Earth Day Union Square event on Sunday, April 19, 2015 from 12-7PM.  Live music and kid activities will be available as well as representatives from environmental organizations and non-profits talking about their work and how you can become involved.

Alternatively, you can use Earth Month (yeah, lets just call April Earth month!), as a time to clean out your apartment/home and recycle as much as you can. Throughout the month, NYC is offering shredding, clothing drops, "Stop N Swaps" and electronics and harmful waste recycling.

NYC SAFE Disposal Events - Safely dispose of electronics and other potentially harmful household products like batteries, paint, pesticides and medicine at the NYC Department of Sanitation's NYC SAFE events this Spring. Only NYC residential waste will be accepted (no business or institutional waste permitted). Learn more and find the full schedule at www.nyc.gov/safedisposal.

Staten Island - Saturday, April 11, 10am-4pm
Midland Beach Parking Lot, Father Capodanno Blvd & Hunter Ave
(cars approach from Midland Ave)


Brooklyn - Sunday, April 19, 10am-4pm
MCU Park, Surf Ave Parking Lot
(cars approach from Surf Ave & W21 St)

-------------

Electronics Recycling with the Lower East Side Ecology Center - Responsibly recycle unwanted or broken electronics (no appliances such as microwaves or refrigerators). Learn more and get the full spring schedule.

Saturday, April 11 - Chelsea
Sunday, April 12 - Upper West Side
Saturday, April 18 - Fort Greene
Sunday, April 19 - Bay Ridge
Sunday, April 19 - Cobble Hill
Saturday, April 25 - Flatbush
Saturday, April 25 - University Heights
Sunday, April 26 - Park Slope
Sunday, April 26 -

-------------

NYPD Document Shredding & E-Waste Collection- College Point - Join the NYPD's Crime Prevention Section to shred your documents containing your personal/sensitive information, free!  Bring old computers, laptops, printers, LED/LCD screens (not tube screen), keyboards, mice, cables, cell phones and tablets to recycle.  All working devices received will include free data destruction services. 

Sunday, April 12, 10am-1pm
College Point Retail Center (main parking lot across from Target)
134-15 20th Ave, Queens (flier)

-------------

April Stop 'N' Swap® Schedule - Bring clean, reusable, portable items such as clothing, housewares, games, books, & toys that you no longer need, and take home something new-to-you, free. You don't have to bring something to take something. No furniture or large items, please.  Learn more.

Saturday, April 18 - Glendale
12pm-3pm, The Shops at Atlas Park, 80-00 Cooper Ave, Queens (map)  

Sunday, April 19 - Chinatown
12pm-3pm, Two Bridges, 82 Rutgers Slip, Manhattan (map)

Thursday, April 23 - Brooklyn Borough Hall
12pm-3pm, 209 Joralemon Street (map)  
*Commuter drop-off available from 8am-12pm at the Greenmarket

Saturday, April 25 - Westchester Square
12pm-3pm, 2551 Westchester Ave, Bronx (map)

Sunday, April 26 - Forest Hills
12pm-3pm, Central Queens Y, 67-09 108th St, Queens (map)  

-------------

Chinatown Earth Day Clothing Collection* - Clothing and textiles represent nearly 6% of NYC's waste. GrowNYC's Office of Recycling Outreach and Education will be partnering up with Chinatown Partnership and the Chinatown Business Improvement District (BID) for a one-day-only pop-up clothing collection at the  2015 Earth Day Chinatown Goes Green!  Bring clean and dry clothing, paired shoes, linens, handbags, belts, and other reusable textiles and we'll keep them out of the landfill. (No scraps, rugs, carpeting, pillows, comforters, or luggage.)

Sunday, April 19, 10am-4pm
Kimlau Square, Park Row, Manhattan (map)

*If you're unable to make this event, the Union Square Farmers Market has a clothing collection tent on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday every week. They usually leave by 4pm and they can provide you a receipt for tax benefits!

-------------

AND there's always composting, but I'll save composting for my next post. This is already long enough! 

If you're not a NY City resident, I highly recommend you go to your City or Town's website (or call your Mayor's office) and see what they offer. If they don't offer anything, maybe you can see about helping start a program that tackles environmental issues? If they do have programming already, maybe you can join and become part of your community?

Watching documentaries, no matter how educational and enlightening, does not do much unless you follow up with action. Hopefully, this helps put you on a path you're comfortable with and will lead you to becoming part of the solution this Earth Day. (Month and Year! (every year!))

Happy celebrating Earth Day fellow earthlings.

Sara of  S2 Stationery & Design