Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Composting in New York City

Yesterday I made the schlepp down to Union Square to drop off my compost. If you want to compost in NYC and have no access to the outdoors, which is my predicament, your options are:
A. Get a worm bin, which is reported by worm bin enthusiasts to not smell or attract vermin, but I'm not taking the risk, or
B. Put your compostable items in your freezer until they have reached a sizable package (usually about once or twice a month in this vegan home) and then carry them to a composting site. I use a corn-based biodegradable plastic bag to contain my scraps so I can just dump the whole lot in. You can purchase these bags at  most health-food stores. For a complete list of sites which accept compost (and info on worm bins and everything else you could possibly wish to know on the topic), click here.

What You Can Compost
All things vegetable, no things animal, few things man-made, is the long and short of it. Fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds (filters too), and cooked food scraps of a non-meat variety can all be composted. Anything involving meat or milk, excessively greasy things, and other non-food garbage, cannot be composted.

Why You Should Compost
Unfortunately, once biodegradable waste is mixed in with non-biodegradable waste and placed in a landfill, it becomes part of the problem and also emits various undesirable toxins etc contributing to pollution. On the other hand, if it is made into compost, it enriches the soil which then grows more food, so it basically becomes the opposite of garbage. This is my unscientific explanation (for more science see my link above), but the bottom line is, composting is good for the environment and not composting is bad for the environment, even if most of what you're throwing out is, say, banana peels.

Where To Compost
For a complete list, see here. I go to Union Square, because, alas, there is not yet composting in the Bronx, and the other sites don't work with my schedule. While at Union Square I like to pick up some local, organic produce (although admittedly not much of it. The Union Square farmer's market is bloody expensive. The LES food co-op has much better prices, as do the outer borough markets, but few of them sell year-round.)

Additionally in the Union Square Farmer's Market is Body and Soul, a small vegan bakery stand with a number of gluten-free options. They also have a store in Brooklyn. I got a butternut squash molasses muffin with pecans for $3. It was tasty, but a bit sticky, which I think is the result of it being oil-free. Often vegan eateries try to cover a lot of ground at once by making their food low-fat, gluten-free, vegan, and organic simultaneously. I don't really agree with this logic: if you're a vegan, you need fat, and many vegans (like me) eat food with a lot of gluten (bread, seitan, wheat). I'm not sure that the markets sensibly overlap. But, being that I am too lazy to make many vegan desserts at home and am a sucker for baked goods, I'm grateful things like vegan muffins exist, fat-free or not. The muffin and the general ambience of the market, not to mention my positive impact on the environment, were well worth the trip on the 4 train with rapidly defrosting trash.

1 comment:

  1. Very neat site. Easy to access. Brand new info for me.