Composting for Beginners


by Lexi Hamsmith
Lab Operations and Safety Specialist
Dept. of Chemical Engineering
Green Office Challenge Eco-Ambassador


Over the past few years, I have become more interested in practicing sustainability in my day-to-day life. Composting has been my most recent endeavor! I had assumed that food waste in landfills was biodegradable, but upon researching I found it does not break down because of how compressed it becomes. Rather, it generates a significant amount of greenhouse gasses and can produce toxic leachate as well. As a result, I made the commitment to begin composting.


Food scraps from cooking one meal Compostable vitamin packet


At-home composting systems are expensive and difficult to manage, especially for beginners. I was intimidated to start at-home composting and began to search for compost drop-off centers, to no avail. One of my friends told me about a wonderful service in New England called City Compost. With this affordable service, you have the option to choose how many collection buckets, frequency of service, and whether you want sawdust to mitigate smell or a countertop container. On your service day, you just bring the full bucket to the curb and drivers will come replace it with an empty one. If interested, you can also get your compost back to use for houseplants or your garden once it has composted! The service keeps track of the weight of compostables you give them and will return the same weight in compost. Other composting services to consider include Bootstrap Compost and Black Earth Compost.


I was blown away by how many things are compostable including paper towels used with food/water, popsicle sticks and pet hair! (see photo below) When we began saving food scraps from cooking I was surprised at just how much we were able to collect, especially when vegetables are involved. I even collect compostables from work. Since the pandemic began, I have been washing my hands more frequently. It hurt my soul to think about how many paper towels I was sending to landfills. However, since they’re just used to dry the water from my hands, they’re compostable! I add them in with any food scraps or tea bags used throughout the day as well as my compostable vitamin packs, put them in one of my reusable smoothie cups and dump it in the bucket once I’m home.


Being able to put my food and paper waste to good use while also reducing my carbon footprint feels so empowering! With global warming becoming a greater threat to our planet with every day that passes, I’m glad to know I’m taking a step, even if it’s a small one, to do my part to fix the crisis we are in. I never realized just how much food waste our household produced. Since we have begun collecting it, I have been more conscious about not wasting food. It’s even more exciting knowing my plants will thrive off the compost we have produced.


Composting is easy, especially if you have a service like City Compost or a composting center in your town!



by Lexi Hamsmith 
June 15, 2021

Related Posts