Sustainability in Westchester: Composting

Last year, I began volunteering at a local urban farm. When I started, I thought I knew everything about the history of the environmental movement. However, on my first day, I learned more about the roots of environmentalism in the first five minutes of volunteering than I learned reading phony environmentalist articles from my poorly matched Facebook feed.

It turns out that America’s modern environmentalist movement (i.e. post Teddy Roosevelt’s initial conservation efforts) was born in the Hudson Valley, where me and my fellow peers live! And yet, in comparison to Canada and California, we are still eons behind in a variety of sustainable efforts like recycling, pollution control, and waste management!

Although I knew this, I did not get involved in efforts to help my community progress in the previously mentioned until a few weeks ago, when a friend of a friend told me about my town’s sustainability committee.

170523 Compost8For the past two weeks, we (the committee), under the amazing guidance of Ron and Michelle, the chairs of the committee, have been working to get all families in the town, and ultimately the county, composting!

Composting you hear. Yes, composting! But, and this tone echoes that of my vibrant and wonderfully intelligent calculus teacher, we are not dealing with everyday, ho-hum, vegetarian composting. No! The composting that my town is looking at is scintillating, exciting composting. This composting happens on kitchen counters, taking in any kind of food- from pasta to meat to paper towels to corn based plastic forks- and turning it into soil!

Currently, all trash in America (with the exception of few progressive towns) is either diverted to landfill or incinerated. In the town I live in, the trash is burned. We are literally breathing our trash. However, throwing out everything from compostable paper towels to food scraps is normal, and frankly, easy. Having one bin for everything is just the simple way to go. Nobody wants to be bothered with the pests, smells, or labour that is frequently associated with composting.

Guess what? Environmentalists know this. That is why new efforts in the town are making composting easy, safe, and affordable. The sustainability committee has recently designed, tested, and quality-confirmed an on-counter composting system that has the potential to not only reduce, but even replace, current trash practices.

However, before the town government approves of the whole composting project, we need enough families to commit to a greener future. Currently, all compost needs to be dropped off at the town recycling center. However, if just a few hundred more families buy compost kits and actively drop off their food scraps, the town will start a weekly pickup of the compost, signifying compost’s equal relevance to recycling and regular landfill waste.

This program is the first of its kind in all of Westchester County, and, if successful, will set an important precedent for other communities.

170523 Compost1
The easiest composting system ever.

The kits costs $20, competing with $55 if purchased online (think Amazon), and comes with a guide, 25 compostable bags, and, if needed, an in-person lesson on how easy composting is.

Please share this post with your parents, friends, and family. Tell them that the kits can be purchased at the recycling center with checks or purchased from the sustainability committee by emailing composting@scarsdale.com.

Together, we can change the air we breathe, the food we waste, and the overall lives we lead. As a volunteer, I have no gain in writing this post but the prospect that future generations will be healthier and happier than we are. Nobody has required, or even asked, that I write this post. Consider how much this project could change our community. Please start composting, and if you live are a student in my town and want to get involved in the Sustainability Committee, email me at adventurouslyorganic@gmail.com.

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