Zero’s a Hero: Go Zero Waste with Composting and Recycling

By Allison Reser

Allison was an on-site manager for Common Ground Compost at Dine Around Downtown. 

Compost is catching on. Food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste make up 34% of what New Yorkers throw away. Instead of being shipped off to a landfill where they will release harmful greenhouse gasses, these organic materials CAN be locally composted into valuable fertilizer. Organizations and individuals around the city are recognizing this important opportunity to reduce their impact on the environment and contribute to improving our waste system.

The Alliance for Downtown New York is one of the groups hopping on the compost train. They proudly took the opportunity to make Dine Around Downtown, their annual lunchtime festival, a Zero Waste Event with the help of Common Ground Compost. Attendees had a choice to make when they arrived at the waste stations: does this item go in the landfill, recycling or compost bin?

It can be hard to find easy, fast, reliable information about which things go in which bin. Recycling and composting can be frustrating and confusing!

That’s precisely why a helpful zero waste educator was standing by each waste station at Dine Around Downtown. Thanks to the compostable serviceware that the Alliance provided to food vendors, the waste station educators frequently said, “everything you’re holding can be composted in the green bin!”

As the public becomes more aware of the environmental challenges associated with our consumption habits, we can begin to feel powerless about our individual ability to reduce our own impact. A responsibly managed zero waste event allows attendees to feel confident that their waste is being properly composted and recycled, and might also leave the event attendee curious about other ways to reduce waste in their average day-to-day.

Despite its importance, composting isn’t offered everywhere. So how can you hop on the compost train?

  • – While Alliance for Downtown New York’s “Reducing Waste in Lower Manhattan” guide is largely intended for property owners and managers, there is also useful information for individuals. And if you live in a property that has a manager, talk to them about implementing the guide’s waste reduction strategies for the building. Another resource is the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board’s waste reduction, reuse, and recycling resource list.
  • – Hosting an event? Run a business? You’re not alone in needing some guidance to get a compost program up and running. Reach out to companies like Common Ground Compost, who specialize in creating customized strategies and plans to make sure you’re diverting as much waste as possible.