Once you have made the decision to start a community compost site, you need to identify your contributors of compost material and their destination. It takes about 1,500 pounds of food residuals to make 1 cubic yard of compost. The amount of nitrogen source (green material), water, and oxygen (the frequency with which you flip the piles or aerate the material) will determine how quickly you can create a finished compost product.
Ideally, you should have about two to three businesses contributing to your pile (for more information on engaging businesses please, see Restaurant Composting) and about five to ten neighborhood residents. This will give you a sufficient volume of nitrogen-rich material to warrant flipping your bins once per week or create 1 cubic yard of compost per month.
We focus on restaurants and coffee houses because their food contributions are already sliced and diced. Grocers may give whole produce in addition to trimmings, which take longer to break down and can cause more odor in the decomposition process.
We favor a three-bin system because it provides:
- Plenty of wiggle room for flipping bins
- Flipping three times into a resting pile is the recipe to create compost faster
- A 4x4x4-foot bin is easily managed by one person
Getting the Word Out
- Register it with Share Waste to increase the odds of business and resident contributions.
- Connect with people in your area so that compost contributors and community compost coordinators can be in touch with one another easily.
Community composting is an excellent way to bring neighbors and local businesses together in a common goal of reducing the conventional waste stream, taking local responsibility for organics disposal, and improving the quality of the soil.
See additional articles for more topics in community compost operation and maintenance: