Compost Drop-Off in the NEKWMD: We Make it Easy and Convenient!
VT's Universal Recycling and Composting law requires all residents, businesses, and establishments divert food scraps from the landfill by July 1, 2020. To do this, there are few options:
- Compost on-site (recommended for households, schools, or small businesses), or dispose of small amounts of household food waste with a sceptic system and in-sink garbage disposal,
- Bring your food scraps to your community recycling center's drop-off location (towns and hours of operation to right). If you do not have food-scrap drop-off offered in your town yet, check back in the summer of 2018!
- Divert food-scraps to local livestock including chickens and swine*. *Special measures must be taken when separating food scraps for swine, please see the VT Agency of Agriculture Guidance for Feeding Food Scraps to Swine.*
- Contract with a compost hauler for off-site composting service. Check out this list of Food Scrap Haulers to see who is providing service in your area. (Recomended for businesses)
Here are a few reasons why composting is positive for our communities, our environment, and our future generations.
Composting food scraps...What's the big deal?
- - Food scraps and other organic matter make up as much as 25% of our household waste. When we throw organic material into the landfill, it decomposes without oxygen and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Therefore, composting conserves space in our landfills while decreasing our impact on the environment.
- - Composting allows oxygen to assist in breaking down organic matter to creates a nutrient-rich humus that can be used in gardens, for landscaping, or general lawn application, and is a natural alternative to synthetic chemical fertilizers.
- - Composting introduces many benefiial microorgansms into the soil. Damages from conventional agriculatural practices can be mitigated by incorporating use of compost into farm management.
- - By adding compost to our local lands, we promote soil health by increasing soil's moisture-retention and fertility.
Interested in Composting at Home?
Here are a few resources to start the process, or simply learn more to improve your composting system.
Backyard Composting in the NEK - Facts, myths, and what you need to get started. (PDF)
U.S. EPA information and resources on composting (external site).
Compost Happens Naturally..
When you are ready to compost at home, you will find that your food scraps and other organic waste, like leaf and yard debris, will break down naturally overtime.
Composting provides us with a way to speed up the natural process of decomposition while ensuring minimal odors and nuisances during the process.
The image above shows the beginning steps of prepping your compost site. You will need these important ingredients to start:
- Food scraps from fruits & veggies, fresh grass clippings. These items provide Nitrogen to the compost pile.
- Shredded paper, sawdust or woodships, dried leaves, hay, straw. These materials provide Carbon to the compost pile.
Step 1: To start a new pile, find an area with well-drained soils and prep the space by mowing grass or removing leaves. Cover ground with hardware cloth (optional, but recommended) and place a Soil Saver (pictured, available at a discount through NEKWMD), or homemade bin on top of hardware cloth and begin to build pile. Piles do not need to be contained, however a plastic or wooden structure provides extra deterrents for animals. Cover hardware cloth (or bare ground) with a layer of dry carbon materials, like leaves, wood chips, sawdust, and shredded paper. This is important to promote drainage and air flow throughout your compost pile.
Step 2: Begin collecting food scraps from your kitchen. Include fruit & veggie scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, bread & grains. Some more-experienced composters also include meat, bones, and dairy into their compost, however this is not recommended for beginners. Meat, bones, and dairy can always be disposed of in the trash if you home compost.
Step 3: Place food scraps into the pile. For best results, your pile should be at least 1 cubic yard (3ft x 3ft x 3ft), which allows it to maintain heat. The pile's size will decrease overtime, but its important when starting a new pile to start at this size.
Step 4: Continue adding food scraps and dry brown materials into your compost. Layering these materials at a ratio of 1part food scraps to 2-3parts brown material
will provide our compost insects and microorganisms (bacteria, fungi) with the materials they need to decompose the material.
Step 5: Maintain your pile overtime. You will periodically (1-2x/month) want to mix your pile with a pitchfork to move any materials that are not fully decomposed into the center of the pile. Add water at this time if needed; compost should not be too wet or too dry, like a wrung-out sponge
Step 6: After 6-8 months, food waste should be non-recognizable and compost mixture should resemble soil. At this time, you can remove the soil-like compost to a separate pile and cover with tarp or cloth to cure. Curing, or maturing, compost allows any excess nutrients to to be processed by bacteria and fungi before use in gardens and on lawns.
Step 7: After curing for 1-2 months, add small layer of compost to garden, lawns, as mulching around trees or shrubs. Sifting compost is recommended before use in gardens, any large chunks of woody material can be placed back into active compost mixture.
Vermicomposting: Using the Power of Worms to Break Down our Food!
Worms are great for composting your fruit & veggie scraps indoors! This method is ideal for anyone who has limited space and eats a lot of fresh fruits & veggies. After a few months of feeding your worms, you can harvest the nutrient-rich worm castings or compost tea for your indoor plants or garden.
There are many great websites with useful info,
here are a few:
Sustainable Table: Vermicomposting 101
(YouTube) Ted Ed Talk: Vermicomposting: How worms can reduce our waste by Matthew Ross.
Interested in learning more about reducing food waste?
Annually, the average family spends over $1200.00 on food that they will not consume and instead will throw away. .
Below are some helpful tips about ways to reduce food waste in our homes.