BBG’s Guide to Composting Organic Waste

Composting is nature's way of recycling. When a leaf falls to the ground, it is eaten and digested by micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi, and by larger creatures, such as beetles and earthworms. Compost is the remains these organisms leave behind: a dark, crumbly material that looks and feels like potting soil. Through composting, organic waste is broken down and the nutrients it contains are returned to the soil, where they can be absorbed by plant roots to help form new leaves. Compost is also an excellent soil conditioner—it helps soils hold water, air pockets, and the minerals and nutrients that are essential to plants.

NYC Compost Project in Brooklyn

The NYC Compost Project in Brooklyn, a program funded and managed through the Department of Sanitation’s Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling in partnership with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, offers workshops on both indoor and outdoor composting and provides technical assistance to community gardens, schools, and other organizations. For more information, email or call the Compost Hotline at 718-623-7290.

The average New York City household throws away two pounds of organic waste each day: vegetable cuttings, fruit peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, and yard trimmings that could instead be composted. When we discard organic waste, we not only lose precious landfill space, we also miss out on a valuable resource that can help beautify parks, gardens, and lawns.

Compost Resources

Home Composting Exhibit
BBG's composting display includes a variety of compost bins, different stages of decomposition, and signs in both English and Spanish to explain the process.

Worm Suppliers
NYC Department of Sanitation offers a list of suppliers that sell worms for indoor composting, as well as worm bins and other vermiculture gear.

The New York City Compost Project
NYC Department of Sanitation composting programs.

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