How I finally started composting
and how This Needs Hot Sauce kept me accountable
This is a preview of what paid subscribers to This Needs Hot Sauce will receive throughout the week. Paid subscriptions launch on October 16th and Monday newsletters will always be free. If a friend forwarded you this email, sign up below.
As someone who cooks a lot and also thinks about the terrifying future of our planet, composting was something I always meant to do. It’s a simple way to minimize your individual impact and turn food waste into something beneficial. I live in a small Brooklyn apartment that barely even recycles, so having a bin of my own was not possible. (New Yorkers can request a food scrap collection bin for your building or find a local drop off site here).
I decided to start collecting food scraps in a Ziploc bag and storing them in the freezer (you can also use an old yogurt container). Talking about this on Instagram kept me accountable. My number one concern was smelly rotting food attracting bugs. I figured I could find a drop-off spot once the bag was full. Almost immediately, I was surprised by how much I collected. Every time I cooked or even made breakfast, I had apple cores, onion skins, and kale stems to compost. Even coffee grounds and filters can be composted (here’s a full list of what can be collected).
My parents drop their compost at their neighborhood farmers market, but I don’t live near one. I dragged my compost to Union Square a few times, which got a little messy (not to mention heavy) and then started a ritual of visiting the Greenpoint Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, which is about a 30-minute walk from me. Now that it’s gotten colder, I bring mine to a nearby community garden that my sister found. The hours are limited, but it’s close by. In my current set up, I only drop off every few weeks. If a bag is full and I can’t drop it off, I’ll start another one.
I know none of this is groundbreaking and that’s the point. It was really seamless to add this step. I have to take out the trash less often (and it smells better when I do), I’m helping reduce what goes in landfills and farms and gardens that use compost can skip chemical fertilizers and improve soil health. (This article has some more info on how it works from a farming perspective).
No matter where you live, you can start composting. Grab a bag, google dropoff locations in your area or stop by a local community garden or farmers market. FWIW, in many countries around the world, trash is separated into organic and inorganic bins. This process is possible to execute at a wider scale. Until that happens here, we can do our part!
Let me know if you have questions or if you’ve started composting. I’m less than six months into this journey and have no plans to stop.
P.S. Technically collecting food scraps is not composting, it is collecting materials for composting, but I’m using the terms interchangeably here. I’m excited to hear about your adventures in greener kitchen habits.