I have a backyard, so I compost. It’s easy: I got a big ol’ box out there, where every few days I dump out the food scraps I’ve been collecting in an oversize plastic cup (with a cap!) I got a few years ago at Cirque du Soleil. Between that and the new rigid-plastic recycling guidelines, I produce such a small amount of actual trash at home—maybe a tall-kitchen bag’s worth every three weeks? At most? If we could get the whole city doing that, or close to it, we’d significantly reduce the amount of refuse we ship to landfills, which is not only the right thing to do environmentally speaking, especially for a city so fucking bad at recycling, but also a way for the city to save money.
Parts of Staten Island started composting last month, a pilot program for the larger citywide effort; the mayor has deemed it a success, if a modest one: 43 percent of the 3,500 homes selected to participate in the voluntary program actually did. In the fall, the Bloomberg administration expects that could expand citywide to as many as 150,000 single-family homes and 100 high-rises, Gothamist reports, perhaps becoming mandatory by the middle of the mayor’s successor’s first term, if he or she chooses to keep it going.
Last year, less than 17 percent of New York’s waste was recycled, a decrease from the year before, the Post reports. Bloomberg’s goal is to get that number up to 30 percent by 2017, and the composting program would be one way to do that.
Of course, not everyone’s happy about the idea of composting. Like, say, moron-columnists at the Post such as John Podhoretz, who envisions everyone in the city rooting through their fetid garbage, trying to figure out which clump of putrefying waste is a banana peel and which is a chicken bone. (Oh, and, get your pitchforks ready: you might have to take the sticker off the banana peel!) Or, you know, John, you could just keep your composting in a separate place, like presumably reasonable New Yorkers do with their recycling. If you’re throwing all your garbage into one big bag and then trying to sort it all out on trash day, you’re creating a lot of unnecessary trouble for yourself.
That said, there are reasonable objections to mandatory citywide composting, as well. “I can’t imagine how the city is going to handle it,” one Clinton Hill resident told the Post. “They can barely handle garbage now.” It’s easy to compost when you’ve got a big backyard, harder when you live in a city-sized apartment building in which they don’t even encourage recycling.
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