Composting Coffee Grounds

Monday, March 23, 2020

Continuing with the theme of sustainability and zero waste from February, Dialogue is going in depth at making composting accessible. Composting is a simple way of taking food scraps and returning them to the earth, rather than the trash (eventually landfill), and continuing the use of the nutrients as they decompose.

Storing Coffee and Food Scraps

The storing part of composting used to scare me. All that stuck with me were wafting smells and gross textures dripping out of a plastic bag. Well... It’s not as scary as I imagined. One easy way, and a good use of leftover plastic bags, is storing your leftover coffee grounds and such in a plastic bag and keeping it in the freezer. The freezer, as well as tying a nice knot, will kill the smell.

If you don’t have plastic bags or want a neater approach, it’s really easy to find a charcoal filter compost bin. Most are a cute or simple design and cost from $15-40. In the long run, it’s more sustainable because you won’t be going through plastic bags. The charcoal filter helps to keep the smell unnoticeable while closed and it can be stored anywhere room temp. 

Compost Bins and Drop-Off in NYC

Storing your compost is of course the easiest part. Not all buildings in NY have food waste bins, let alone recycling or trash cans, (been there). These days I’m blessed with one of these brown composting bins for my building. You can empty your scraps and waste directly into these bins or use certified compostable bags. These certified compostable bags can be found at certain grocery or hardware stores.

If your building doesn’t have one of these tiny brown bins yet, you are able to apply on’s website as long as your building has 10 or more residential units. You can also nominate your neighborhood for consideration for future expansion plans. These things take time and although it would be amazing to have composting bins easily accessible for all, this isn’t a reality. So with this in mind, there are alternatives for dropping off and getting rid of your compost.

New York, among other cities and towns, have other options if compost pick-up is not available to your home or apartment building. Brooklyn Botanic Garden operates a composting site, with a drop-off location in Red Hook. Red Hook is kind of out of the way, but there’s many other gardens in Brooklyn and Manhattan that have compost drop-off times. There’s the Lower East Side Ecology Center Community Garden, Prospect Heights Community Garden, Queens Botanical Garden, and Bronx Green-Up among others.

While it all takes a personal effort, composting is tangible. And of course it is to be noted that during these ‘new-normal’ isolated times, drop-off sites are currently closed or have restricted openings. From inside you can still request a brown compost bin or find a garden near you where you can start a new habit once things reopen. Just something to look forward to, right?

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