Why We Should Compost--Even Urbanites

Why We Should Compost

Like most Montrealers, I was unaware that organic or kitchen waste accounted for 45% of all garbage collected in the city. Of this percentage, roughly half is compostable, yet only 8% is actually composted (think dead leaves). The rest ends up in landfill or at the incinerator, and these means of disposal release three principal types of greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane gas.

Although carbon dioxide is the most prevalent of the three, methane gas causes the greatest devastation to the environment. And according to Environment Canada, landfills create nearly 38% of all methane emissions nationwide. Sometimes referred to as landfill gas, methane is created when organic matter beneath layers of waste decomposes without oxygen.

A way to avoid this is to compost. As composting combines oxygen, it's a methane-free operation and only releases minimal amounts of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. Not only does composting reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill and prevent potential soil and groundwater contamination, it also creates nutrient-rich soil.

(Do you have a composting program where you live, work or go to school?)

Okay, I'm clear on why we need to compost. But what is a city dweller to do? We lack both the space to compost and the garden to use it in.

Like many North Amercian cities, Montreal does not have a city-wide composting program. Lots of hot air (or is it methane?) has been released on implementing a composting program, but there have only been a few pilot projects to date.

A Solution for Urban Dwellers

There are private compost collection services that will pick up your organic waste on a weekly basis year round.

(Do you have another effective solution for urban dwellers? Please tell us about it.)

This is the case here in Montreal. I recently learned about an affordable composting company that caters to both residents and businesses on the island of Montreal. For the modest sum of $5 a week or $60 a season (13 weeks), Compost Montreal will give you a container for your kitchen scraps and pick it up once a week. And if you have a garden, it will give you free compost in the spring.

I recently contacted the company and spoke with compost entrepreneur Tye Hunt. The company has just expanded operations and added to the list of waste products it accepts.On the company's Web site, it gives an itemized list of what the company accepts and refuses.

Compost customers must bear in mind that this is not their mother's backyard compost. It's a large-scale operation with strict requirements to ensure quality.

Tune in for my next post. I will explain why some ingredients are not suitable for compost.

Montreal Gazette
Composting Council of Canada
Compost Montreal

Other environmental posts:
Meet the Clean 15 (Produce with lowest pesticide levels)
Evironmental Working Group Updates its Dirty Dozen (12 fruit and veg with the highest pesticide levels)
Buying Local: Vegetables Year Round
Plastics: Of the 3 Rs, we should REDUCE
3 Simple Q&As about Children and Pesticides


Anonymous | June 13, 2009 at 1:49 AM

Excellent Blog..

Heather | June 14, 2009 at 9:05 AM

Thanks Ida. You will always be dear to my hear- my faithful first follower. Cheers

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