Portland Composts!

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Adding Simple Composting to the Mix and Reducing Trash

pdx Bureau of Planning and SustainabilityIt was almost amazing to travel from Portland down to Los Angeles earlier this month, after having only been gone for a year and a half, not a day more. Why? Simply put, the culture shock. And it’s the little things too, not just the awful behavior of most motorists, either.

The total immersion in a Portland culture that focuses very heavily on greener measures across the board was starkly contrasted with a Los Angeles that still doesn’t really have separate bins for recyclable plastics and other materials — just trash cans, regular old trash cans that used to seem so all-inclusive — in a lot of places.

In Portland, and maybe this has as much to do with the over-abundance of take out and street cart food, or just a general emphasis on restaurant culture, it seems that there’s almost a mini-unspoken-competition among food sellers, to see who can be the greenest. Recyclable and compostable packaging for take out, tons of bins for separate recycling and composting in restaurants, etc. And now, we’re being asked to compost food scraps in the home. And the transition, given the supportive culture up here, isn’t that bad at all.

Why Portlanders Are Being Asked to Compost
Portland Composts bucket
There it is. One day toward the end of the month in October, they showed up on the front door step like a long-lost pup. And we took the little brown bucket into our homes, found a cozy spot for it underneath the kitchen sink, and then promptly began paying some attention to it.

What goes in there and why did we get these things? Apparently, compostable packaging (as noted on boxes and things), pizza boxes (here’s why pizza boxes are not compostable, in an earlier post), food scraps, paper towels, egg shells, coffee grinds if you’re not already using them in the garden — all of it that you may previously shoved into the trash or down the garbage disposal — all of it goes in the compost bin.

Trash collection costs a lot of money, so many city and local governments are trying to tighten the proverbial budget belt by reducing service to once every other week, rather than every week. In the meantime, breaking out recycling and now placing food scraps into the compost bin and then into the yard waste along with the leaves and grass clippings allows for a huge reduction in general “trash,” making limited collection even possible. Instead, recycling bins (blue) and yard waste/compost bins (green) get picked up weekly.

Here’s more information here, at Portland Composts!

[Photo Via: PDX Bureau of Planning and Sustainability; Johns Landing]

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