Friday, May 29, 2015

Organic Waste Composting is here!

Sustainable Lawrence and a select few local (and vocal) residents have been pushing for ages (2 years, perhaps 3 years) to join Princeton, NJ as the second town in Mercer County to offer curbside organic collection. What does that mean? It means everything that was once alive will be collected once a week in our new green bucket -- from pizza boxes (which you cannot recycle) to egg shells to weeds to food scraps to grass clippings to lint to tissues to paper towels (no used toilet paper, please).

Princeton started theirs in June 2011 as a 3-month trial program. One big difference is Princetonians pay for their trash. Lawrencians don't pay directly for our trash (it is part of our taxes, not a separate bill). We will have to pay $17 a month to have our compost collected. Yes, we could do it ourselves, but we don't. This is composting without the mess.

Since January it sounded like it was going to happen any day now, most likely by March. By March we stopped dropping off our compost to Chris and Sherri's house and started collecting it ourselves. I blogged about small changes we could all make. We put our names on the list in early 2014, or late 2013. We waited as the town tried to round up 300 families to participate. We got more hopeful when the town announced the trash company decided to cut the minimum number to 150 families within the town. 100 signed up. 120 signed up. 130 signed up. 140 signed up. 147 signed up. Come on! We can do it! There are 30,000 residents. Let's say an average of 3 people per household (if for no other reason than that is what we have), you are talking 10,000 households. However, you must have curbside trash pick-up to participate (which eliminates apartments and places that use dumpsters). STILL that number seems more than do-able.

And we waited. Every once in a while an article would appear in the all-but-defunct Lawrence Ledger. Every once in a while the township would send us an update. Every once in a while an update would be given to town council. 
We would go on vacation and see other places with organic waste collection -- this brown bucket was spotted on the streets of Montreal. My friends in Princeton would rave about their collection.

And still we waited. Until this afternoon when a Pensky moving truck moved slowly through our neighborhood to deliver our bucket. Our pick up starts on Wednesday June 3. There will even be a ceremony to kick off the collection.

Lawrence residents, it is not too late to sign up. The first 300 participants will receive a discount as per a grant from Sustainable Jersey.

Now the next question is, how many of the 9 buckets of compost that we have been collecting will fit in the new green bucket, and how many will have to wait until next week? There is a lot we have not been collecting -- such as pizza boxes, dryer lint, paper towels, and tissues, that we will start collecting now. I suspect there will be weeks when our green container will be overflowing, and our regular blue trash containers will remain hardly used. Wish we could swap the sizes.

I am happy be be part of this movement and look forward to watching it continue to grow. 

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