Compost Chronicles | An Unexpected Convenience
Ready to compost at home but not sure how to get started? John and Sukhmani just bumped into composting at their farmers market and it aligned with the ideas in their heads about being less wasteful.
The Compost Chronicles series highlights families in various circumstances who have all found a way to compost at home that works for their lifestyle. Hopefully, you can be inspired to give it a go and help our planet become a little healthier.
Did you know that composting can transform your trash into new life? And that new life, in the form of microbes, fungi, earthworms, and more, provides the foundation for much of all other healthy life on Earth?
Composting is a great way to create healthy soil to support people and our planet. Healthy soil is also a magical carbon sink that absorbs carbon from our atmosphere and helps cool the planet. While dead dirt has few living organisms, a teaspoon of healthy soil has more living organisms in it than the entire population of humans on Planet Earth!
We need everyone to learn how to compost at home and make it a part of everyday life.
Don’t think you can compost? We’ve got a whole set of resources on Everything To Know About How To Compost At Home, including more Compost Chronicles interviews. All of this information about how to compost at home will hopefully prove that just about anyone can make space and find a system to turn their food scraps into nutrient-rich compost to enrich our soil, feed our food cycle, and limit the food waste that ends up in landfills.
Meet John + Sukh.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, your family, etc…?
My husband and I live in Brooklyn, New York. We live in a duplex in a condo building.
Tell us a little bit about why you decided to start composting.
My sister-in-law has had a huge influence on me trying to be less wasteful. We were always looking at ways to reduce waste. Before moving to Brooklyn, we lived in Manhattan and didn’t really know much about composting in New York City.
When we moved to Brooklyn, we realized that our local farmers’ market on Sundays had a compost drop-off area. We started doing that weekly! A few years later we moved, and our new building has two bins downstairs in the garbage area where we can drop off the compost, making it even more convenient.
What method of composting do you use?
Before compost drop-off in our building, we used to take it once a month to the farmers’ market. We found it very easy to do. The walk was also not far!
For your compost at home, how do you store the scraps until they are taken to your compost pile?
We store them in a steel container with a lid on our countertop. No issues with the smell and it takes up little space on our counter.
What does dropping off your compost look like?
On the days we are ready to take our compost to drop-off, we have a system.
Are there restrictions on what you can put in the compost bin?
For our composting drop-off, we could not include the following:
- Meat, Fish, and Dairy
- Pet Waste and Kitty Litter
- Pressure-treated Plywood, Lumber, or Sawdust
- Clean Paper, Glossy Paper, or Cardboard
- Metal, Glass or Plastic
- Medical Waste, Diapers, and Personal Hygiene Products
- BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) certified compostable plastic products
For our building, we could not include the following:
- Diapers and hygienic products
- Animal waste
- Wrappers and packaging
- Foam products
- Metal, glass, rigid plastic
- Beverage cartons
- Clean recyclable paper
Are there times you both produce more food waste than “normal”? What happens when you have “too much”?
In the past, when we waited to drop the scraps at the farmers’ market, if we had family and friends visiting or we had excess food scraps, we used to store composting in the fridge until we were able to take it for drop off. Now, with the compost drop-off downstairs, we make more frequent trips!
Are there times that you don’t compost because of your method? What are those circumstances?
During the pandemic, unfortunately, all markets were suspended for a while, and it took even longer for the composting to come back. We didn’t have the bins downstairs so we weren’t able to compost then.
Do you have any special tools, containers, or products that help make composting easier or more accessible for you?
No, we didn’t need any extra tools. We use what we have. We reuse brown bags if we need to take the compost in a bag. For anything too liquidy, we use a strainer to take out the liquid and put the solids in the compost.
How does your family feel about composting? Do they participate? Are they on board or does it feel like more of a grind getting them to follow suit?
Me and my husband both participate, so it’s a shared task.
How did the composting in the building happen?
We have a new management company that started on January 1, 2022, and people in our building requested it.
Does anyone else in your building compost?
Yes, I have seen other people in our building compost. I believe having one in the building has made it much easier to do this. Prior to having it in our building we definitely saw people also going to the farmers’ market on Sundays with compost.
Do you feel there is diversity in the composting community?
Yes, when we used to go compost outside the building, we used to see all sorts of genders, ages, and ethnicity.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers about your composting practices, especially to help beginners gain confidence that they too can compost?
I would just say to just start! It looks more intimating than it is. Before you know it, it will be natural for you to do it.
About The Author
Rupa Singh is an ex-social entrepreneur and mom of three kids connecting them to their South Asian (Indian) roots + sustainability. Organizational wife to an altruistic architect. Advocate for low waste + thoughtful consumption. Continually unlearning + learning. Her bullet journal + audiobooks + morning ritual feed her spirit.