Mireya Navarro

New York Times Writer

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Talking Trash

Trash has been on my mind since I attended a workshop on indoor composting for apartment dwellers in New York City. The point? Getting rid of our food waste so that it doesn’t end up in a landfill producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas released during the decomposition process. The Environmental Protection Agency says more than a third of our trash is paper, which we already recycle, and another 13 percent is food scraps, which we mostly throw out. But food is organic matter than can be re-used. Through composting, which indoors means throwing the food scraps into a bin and letting red wiggler worms eat through them, our leftovers can be turned into crumbly soil we can then use as fertilizer for plants. People can compost in their backyards, throwing food scraps into bins along with yard waste like leaves. Cities like San Francisco and Seattle collect food scraps door to door along with other recyclables, sending the food waste to composting plants that sell the compost to vineyards and landscapers. But only 3 percent of the nation’s food waste is recycled through composting. In cities like New York, with no food waste collection program, the environmentally-conscious may freeze their scraps and drop them off at collection sites around the city (of which there are very few) or compost in their tiny apartments. And for that they must be willing to room with worms. At the workshop I attended, participants left with a bin and a bag full of 1,000 worms each. After setting up the bin, all you have to do is feed the worms once a week your leftovers, kept in the freezer until chow time. As disgusting as it may sound, people who compost say they love the idea of giving back to the earth what they took from it. If you feel like giving it a try, check out my story: “Urban Composting: A New Can of Worms” and the comments from dozens of composters throughout he country.

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