By: Keri Greenwalt
There has been a lot of talk about composting and how much material it can keep out of landfills, which is great for the environment and the City’s goal to reach Zero Waste by 2040. But how much work does it take to compost and what kind of set up is needed? The truth is, composting doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, there are many composting options right here in Austin, so you can decide what works best for you and your household.
Let someone else do the composting for you
By now, many Austinites are aware of the City’s Curbside Composting program and its numerous benefits. This service allows you to toss the appropriate items into the cart and set it at the curb on your collection day. Then the City handles the rest.
Currently available to about half of Austin Resource Recovery’s (ARR) curbside customers, about 100,000 homes, ARR plans to add an additional 52,000 homes this fall and the remaining customers in 2020.
Drop off material to be composted
In Austin, organic material can be dropped off for free (in most cases) at farmers markets or community gardens to be transformed into compost. Be sure to follow the guidelines provided for each facility to ensure your material will be accepted.
Get your hands dirty and compost yourself
Did you know the City offers a $75 home composting rebate? Most Austinites can take a free class offered by the City to qualify. Look for items covered under the rebate, indicated by an asterisk (*) in the sections below.
Compost directly in your house plants or garden
If you want to compost but it seems overwhelming, start out by making one small change and then expand from there. Did you know that coffee grounds can easily be composted by just adding them into the soil in your house plants or garden? Coffee grounds are a quick, easy way to add nutrients and organic matter to your soil, and your plants will love it.
Create compost in your backyard*
Select a designated area of your backyard for home composting, where you can create a compost pile or store a compost bin or tumbler. Creating your own compost is easier than you think and the City offers free classes to help you get started.
Create compost right in your apartment or on your patio*
Do you live in an apartment or have limited space in your backyard? No problem. You can still create your own compost with a Bokashi, which takes up little space, is 10 times faster than other composting methods (typically completing the entire process in only seven to 14 days) and can be utilized year-round. Or set up a vermicomposting system that utilizes worms to break the material down.
Let chickens do the composting*
Ready to take on some Zero Waste backyard pets? Did you know keeping chickens is a great way to keep your food waste out of the landfill? The average chicken eats about seven pounds of food per month. Feeding food scraps to chickens can keep a significant amount of material out of the landfill each year. Chickens provide other benefits as well. They produce eggs, and can provide natural insect control. In addition, chicken droppings can be mixed with yard waste to create compost. Try your hand at chicken keeping and take a class offered by the City to help you get started.
You’re already composting but want to do more?*
If you haven’t already taken advantage of the City’s $75 home composting rebate, you can take a class to increase your knowledge and use the rebate to buy compostable bags, a kitchen collector or other accessories you can use with your existing composting system, either at home or curbside.