To Compost or Not…

Before my summer internship with Green Newton, I did not know, nor care, much about composting.

Upon reading about the topic, however, I became more invested in the

Helping at our Farmers Market booth, Jennifer Wang and Nastassja Holm

Helping at our Farmers Market booth, Jennifer Wang and Nastassja Holm

idea and began to wonder how many other people share my former stance on the issue and how we can encourage them to start composting. To better gauge the level of interest and concerns of Newton residents toward the issue, I conducted a survey at Green Newton’s Farmers Market booth to ask visitors why they do or do not compost and whether or not they would be interested in public compost collection.

As expected, the survey revealed that gardeners like to use compost as a replacement for toxic fertilizers to enrich the soil, but that wasn’t the only motivation to compost.

Nearly 50 percent of composters stated waste reduction to be a major reason to compost, and with good reason. Food scraps and yard waste make up 20 to 30 percent of total garbage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Therefore, composting greatly reduces the amount of fuel emitted when transporting garbage and prevents these materials from being incinerated.

Meanwhile, a majority of non-composters attributed their reluctance to a lack of space. One solution could be a community compost program, which appealed to 70 percent of respondents, including myself.

Compost drop-off and pick-up services have been shown to be an effective method of cutting back on waste in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, and, most recently, Cambridge. Within the city’s first year of a curbside composting pilot program, trash was reduced by nearly 35 percent, according to Randi Mail, Cambridge’s recycling director.

Until Newton comes up with a plan to fund a similar project, we can get started with community composting sooner with the help of volunteers willing to pick up or inspect and turn compost. If you are interested, please contact [email protected]

By Nastassja Holm, Green Newton Summer Intern