File This Under “Things I Thought I’d Never Do, But Did” (Try It, You Might Like It!)

What’s the old saying, “never say never”? For years I’ve said I’d never go to Las Vegas. Okay, I might swing through on my way to the Grand Canyon. But I doubt I’d ever spend time in a casino or go to a show – they just don’t interest me. To date, I’ve never been.

On the other hand, I used to say I could not see myself composting because I live in a Manhattan apartment. I’m a devoted recycler, but was uninformed about composting. I automatically assumed food scraps would attract bugs or other critters. For this same reason, I never understood why the City of New York (NYC) would push composting initiatives — until I stumbled on a 2018 Open House New York event at the nearby East River Park Compost Yard and took the tour.

One key thing I learned was that organics collection for composting will actually “help eliminate rats and roaches from your kitchens.” Hmmm, okay… I’ve never worried about rats inside my apartment, but I’m well aware of the rat scourge in New York and other big cities.

I also learned more about the important purposes for composting: Compost is used to create sorely-needed healthy soil and renewable energy. And that if you know the ropes, there is no reason to fear bug problems (or worse) from composting.

A little knowledge is a fantastic thing

After the Open House New York tour, I became a convert to composting. At first, I thought I’d get a secure countertop bin for my daily coffee grinds and filters (yes, food-soiled paper is ok), fruit peels, vegetable scraps, and eggshells. Instead, I’ve ended up bagging my scraps and storing them in the freezer, an alternative suggested by the compost experts.

The warm-glow effect – and trash reduction – is real

I feel virtuous every time I drop off my frozen scraps at the East River Park Compost Yard. And, I’m amazed at how many fewer trash bags I’m depositing in the chute on my apartment floor – less work for the building staff, and I really feel in touch with the contribution I’m making to keeping methane-producing food scraps from the landfill. This “Composting, Explained” video may inspire you.

The NYC program

To ensure the program’s success, the city specifies what is acceptable for deposit in compost bins. One excluded category is meat and dairy — precisely because these can attract rats and don’t break down as readily as other food scraps. In addition, food scrap receptacles around town are made of thick plastic or metal and elevated out of rats’ smell range. I found it interesting that flowers and leaf and yard waste are accepted.

Here is the city’s tip sheet that explains which “greens” and “browns” make ideal raw materials for composting. You can find a complete overview of NYC’s program here.

Drop-off is more convenient than you may think

Here is a list of city-run drop-off sites in the five boroughs. GrowNYC and the NYC Compost Project also run drop-off sites, as do over 230 community sites affiliated with the NYC Compost Project.

FYI: A note about the expression, “Never say never.”

I opened this post with “What’s the old saying, ‘never say never’?” Scores of internet sources say that the earliest reference to “never say never” is in Charles Dickens’ first novel, The Pickwick Papers. But claims to have thoroughly searched The Pickwick Papers and has found no reference whatsoever to “never say never.” Not sure I’d take it to the bank, but I felt obliged to share what I’d read!

And, do you remember “Try It, You’ll Like It”?

Here again, the baby boomer in me couldn’t resist channeling a vintage ad spot to coax readers to try composting. This time it’s Alka-Seltzer’s 1972 campaign, “Try It, You’ll Like It.” A restaurant patron — egged on by the waiter to try a new dish — ends up with an upset stomach and turns to Alka-Seltzer for quick relief. You can view the clip here.