Urban Composting is Possible!

Urban Composting is Possible!

What if you knew urban composting is easy and rewarding to you and the planet?

My composting journey began with a couple of clicks in August 2019. It has been easy with a weekly pickup and is perfect for small spaces.

In the United States approximately 100 million tons of food waste are generated each year. Food waste seems senseless when nature has such a great way to regenerate the waste into nutrients for the soil. While I make a conscious effort to buy only what we need, there is always food waste. How could I change this while living in a city apartment? There did not seem to be good composting options.

One day searching the internet, Compostnow.org popped up. My excitement grew as I explored their website and realized that they are a composting service for homes, offices, or food services in my home city, Atlanta, Georgia.

After almost 2 years of composting, it has become a part of my lifestyle. 

A little container by the sink is where I collect food scraps throughout the day.  This makes it easy to collect without continuously bending down. At the end of the day, I dump it into the Compostnow container that easily fits under the kitchen sink.  Once a week, I grab the handle and take it to our building garbage room. Compostnow.org picks it up, leaves a clean container, and takes care of the rest! 

Under Sink Compost Bin
In addition to reducing CO2 and landfills, we love that we can donate our compost to a local farm, garden, or park.  

The compostnow.org site is easy to use and shares stats on progress (see my stats below). If you are going to be out of town, simply indicate a skip on the site and they will not pick up until you are back.  There is also a large list of farms, gardens, and parks that have registered to receive composting.  Select one or more and share your compositing.  If you have a garden, the compost will be delivered to you!

CompostNow Stats
CompostNow Stats
Since starting in August of 2019, my 573 pounds of food scraps have been transformed into 287 pounds of compost. 

Every month my 27 pounds of food waste is diverted from the landfill. Every little bit helps and it is a pleasure to be a part of nature’s cycle. 

Compostnow.org is a good service to have in the neighborhood.  We love seeing their vans pass by and their growing presence in Atlanta.  

If you are interested in composting, you can consider DYI options, paid services such as Compostnow.org, or some communities provide composting services (i.e., San Francisco). Check out our OPL insight on Composting in a City Near You to get some information on where to compost in your area.   

Please let us know about your composting experiences! 

OPL Founder Lorie Buckingham

This experience was shared by OPL Founder and Wayfinder Lorie Buckingham.

Learn more about Lorie.

A Food Waste Recycling Solution that Changed a Nation

A Food Waste Recycling Solution that Changed a Nation

The Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the World Economic Forum target us to reduce food system waste by 20 million tons by 2030.

Food systems have a high environmental cost — more than 820 million people go hungry every day and many producers struggle to stay afloat. In high-income countries, 35% of the food is thrown out by consumers. Let’s look at South Korea for inspiration on a food waste recycling solution.

South Korea has a big food waste problem, with 130 kg of food waste produced by an average adult every year.

This is large even compared to the 95 – 115 kg of food waste produced by an average European or North American. Why was waste in South Korea so high to begin with? There are multiple factors. In the late 90s, the standard of living in the country rose, leading to more frequent dining out and more single-occupant households. Additionally, in South Korea meals are traditionally served with banchan: side dishes such as kimchi, seasoned soybean sprouts, or radish salad, and more – sometimes up to 20. These side dishes are delicious, but eating them all is a challenge, which leads to a lot left over at the end of the meal.

Dumping food waste in landfills in South Korea was banned in 2005, and starting in 2013 a food waste recycling program was introduced.

Because so much food was going to waste, the South Korean government stepped in to save food from going to landfills, which in turn changed the behavior of South Korean citizens. South Koreans now purchase special biodegradable food waste bags at local supermarkets and convenience stores at a cost of around $6/month.


All food waste scraps are placed into the bags, which are then placed into specially designated collection buckets.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)-equipped “smart bins” have been placed around the city of Seoul, into which residents can place their food scraps directly without having to use the special bags. The smart bins charge by weight, encouraging residents to drain their food scraps of liquids before discarding — thus saving the city money on collection fees. Either way, the message is clear — the more you waste, the more you pay.

High-tech Food Waste Recycle Bins
The rate of food waste recycled has increased from 2% to 95% today in South Korea.

The collected dry food scraps are then turned into fertilizer in urban gardens, or the remaining moisture squeezed out of the bags is turned into bio gasses and oils. And although the system isn’t perfect (South Korea has created more fertilizer than can realistically be used), these changes have caused the rate of food waste recycled to increase from 2% to 95% today and proves how much of a difference small changes can make. 

Does your city or town compost? Have you ever tried composting? Let us know about your experiences, or check out our An Easy Guide to Backyard Composting blog to learn more about starting a home composting system, or our OPL Insight, Composting in a City Near You to learn about composting services that do the dirty work for you.

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