top of page
  • Susan Wineland

A Very Beneficial Way to Recycle

When it comes to recycling, nothing can capture the meaning of the word quite like 'composting' can. It’s a great example of how small lifestyle changes can have large impacts. In this very natural process, what’s from the earth goes back to the earth. Vegetable matter, lawn and garden clippings, hay, shredded newspaper, and other matter are broken down by naturally occurring bacteria and fungus in the soil to form compost.

Why is composting so important?

The USDA estimates that one-third of all food produced in the world goes to waste. It can spoil in the fields, during distribution, or get thrown away on cruise ships, in hotels, stores, restaurants, schools, or home kitchens. This food is estimated to be enough to feed every undernourished person on earth.

Such wastefulness isn't just a social problem but an environmental one too as it wastes all the energy and water that it has taken to grow the food. And, when food and organic matter go to the landfill and rot, it produces methane, a powerful pollutant that mixes with other gasses to create unhealthy smog. the significant methane emissions from food waste rotting in landfills. EPA data show that food waste is the single most common material landfilled and incinerated in the U.S.

Having a compost bin at home means that all the vegetable matter you normally would throw away stays out of landfills, thus eliminating the methane gas it produces. You also reduce your overall trash. Compost is a gardener’s best friend. In fact it’s called “brown gold”. Why? Because it enriches the soil and lightens it while increasing the soil’s ability to hold moisture. It’s made from decaying plants and vegetable matter so it contains the major elements for healthy plant growth and vital trace elements as well.

Community Compost Service Now in Orange

If you can't or don't want to compost at home, you can bring food scraps to the Orange Transfer Station and Recycling Center for composting. Look for the green bins to the left of the hopper. Read about this new composting service and what's allowed in the bins.

Composting Resources and How To's

There are many online articles and videos all about ways to compost. Some of them are simply starting a compost pile on bare earth:

  1. Lay twigs or straw first, a few inches deep

  2. Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry vegetable matter like faded flowers, fruit peels, cornstalks, weeds, leaves, hay, and shredded newspaper.

  3. Use grass clippings but not from a lawn that’s had weed killer used on it because that compost can kill any plants you grow in it.

  4. Or, dig a pit 2 feet deep and layer kitchen scraps down first, then sprinkle some shredded newspaper dried leaves, twigs, or hay.

  5. Cover it up with some soil that you had dug up. This helps keep the critters away.

There are also many types of compost bins you can build or buy:

  1. Stationary composters you just set on the ground and add compostables to.

  2. Tumblers have a rotating drum that you spin by cranking a handle. Some tumbler types have two wheels, so you can easily roll it over to your garden to add finished compost to your plants and flowers. They sit slightly off the ground and have secure door latches to keep rodents out.

  3. There are also worm and countertop food waste processors which chop and dehydrate whatever food waste you put inside resulting in a usable fertilizer.

Choose the best composter that will fit with your lifestyle and your space. But do compost! It’s the best way to recycle the many kitchen scraps and garden debris that get thrown away in the trash. It’s a win-win situation and your garden will thank you for the rich brown gold that will make your plants thrive.

To find out if specific items are recyclable, go to, type in the item and you’ll know immediately. Otherwise, when in doubt, throw it out. For more info about recycling in Orange, visit

Article originally published in the Milford-Orange Times.


bottom of page