Compost on Every Corner

Let’s place compost bins on every corner in America, momentarily supposing that all citizens can be trusted to discard exclusively organic matter into these bins. We can return to the supposition later, but let us first examine why compost bins should be everywhere.

  • Throwing banana peels and apple cores into a compost pile is liberating
  • Discarding food waste in the trash is senseless
  • Transporting food waste in trucks is senseless
  • Food waste is natural

If composted correctly decomposing food waste can produce excellent fertilizer, but in landfills it mixes with inorganic compounds and produces methane gas, contributing to climate change and global warming. It’s too bad I feel like a criminal when I toss my apple core across the street. But let’s do it. Let’s throw our food waste in our own and other people’s backyards. Let’s compost everywhere by investing in animal-proof compost barrels that are too heavy to steal and accessible to all.

The benefits of ubiquitous composting are significant for the individual, society, and the environment.

ubiquitous composting (solution) => reduced domestic waste (waste smells) => reduced need for waste collection (costs reductions to municipalities and taxpayers) => reduced fuel demands for garbage trucks (increased energy independence through decreased fuel demand, reduced emissions from trucks) and wear-and-tear on roads (economic savings to taxpayer-funded road work, reduced road congestion, reduced noise pollution) => reduced landfill inputs (landfills are pretty gross too) => reduced greenhouse gas emissions (a better environment and future for the planet and society) =>


nutrient-rich fertilizer for local gardens (economic benefits to farmers and the local food movement)

It really would feel liberating to throw food waste into compost bins, but it also makes economic and environmental sense. Trash is often shipped hundreds of miles along interstates to landfills that are not yet at peak capacity. Upon delivery waste management firms pay landfill owners a set fee per weight unit of trash. Such transit might, by a longshot, make sense for non-food waste, but in terms of shipping food scraps across several states, we humans should just be smarter.

San Francisco has led the nation in mandating separate compost collection. Citizens and local governments across the nation should look to San Francisco for guidance (links below). However, San Francisco can and should go one step further in removing collection trucks from the equation. Let us return to nature and throw our apple cores in the woods, even if our backyard is as urban as Haight & Ashbury.

Links to San Francisco’s innovative composting strategy
Resolution Adopting Zero-Waste Goal
Resolution Setting Zero Waste Date
Mandatory Recycling and Composting



About Emerging Environments

Thoughts about environmental policy, sustainability, cancer, and more.
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