Reading, MA –We’ve all been there. You bought some fruits or vegetables last week after deciding you were turning over a new leaf and cleaning up your diet. For day after day, the lonely food sat in your refrigerator waiting to be eaten. One day, you open your refrigerator, and suddenly, the violins in your head hit their high notes and you jump: your healthy food is covered in mold. Most people would take the food and throw it out, but with a curbside compost pick-up program, you could ensure that that moldy food doesn’t get wasted.
So, what’s composting? How is it that I can put moldy food into a box that gets taken away the same way the garbage guys pick up my trash, and it’s somehow different? Well, when you compost something, you’re basically speeding up the natural process of decomposition that would already occur without human intervention. Because composting relies on a natural process, there are obviously things you cannot compost but most things are fair game.
Okay, so now you know that you can put all this stuff into a bin to be composted, but what is the point of speeding up the decomposition process? Well, after that stuff you leave on your curb is picked up and composted at the Black Earth composting facility (the compost pick-up company that serves Reading), the finished product, which is basically soil filled with nutrients, is sent out to garden stores to be sold, sent to farms to be used or sold, and basically returns to the market. So all that stuff that you might normally throw out ends up being recycled in a way that is very healthy for the earth. If you’re curious about the more in-depth details of how composting helps the environment, there are plenty of great articles about that online.
At this time, the only curbside compost pick-up company that serves Reading is called Black Earth, but in time, more companies may also offer their services here. To sign-up, visit Black Earth’s website. The initial sign-up cost is $34.00 and gets you your compost bin, one set of compostable bag liners for the 13-gallon bin, and one set for a kitchen countertop container that can be put into the big bin before collection, which happens on Thursdays. Right now, the service costs either $17.99 per month or $99.99 for six months but if 300 Reading residents sign up for the program, that price will drop down to $12.99 per month or $69.99 for six months. At the moment, there are already 134 Reading residents that are signed up (in large part, because of the hard work of members of Green Sanctuary, a climate justice group at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading). Once a year, you’ll also get a voucher for a free bag of Black Earth Compost! If you’re concerned that you won’t be filling up your bin each week, you could also consider going in on it with your neighbor so that you both split the costs and fill up that bin.
This is a really great way to make a positive impact in your community’s environment and also be more aware of what your household throws out every week.