Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Composting Made Easy!

By Paige Ahlborg

What is Composting?

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), compost “is a mixture of decaying organic matter”. Organic matter on the home front is abundant, from orange rinds and banana peels to coffee grounds and filters. Your composting options are endless. Not only is compost great for gardening, it helps reduce the amount of waste being disposed of in our landfills.

Composting organic matter (leaves and grass clippings) from your yard is a great way to keep these materials out of the street and away from impervious surfaces such as sidewalks and driveways where they can be picked up by rain that will wash them into our sewers and then into our lakes, wetlands and streams. This keeps them from contributing nutrients that feed algae and turn those water bodies into less desirable places for animals, birds and humans. If you don't have room to compost your own yard waste in a compost bin in your yard you can bring it to any of the county's yard waste sites in your community.

Check out these websites for schedules and locations for yard waste drop offs: 
Ramsey County link http://www.co.ramsey.mn.us/ph/rt/yard_waste_collection_sites.htm 
Washington County link http://www.co.washington.mn.us/index.aspx?NID=628

Composting Made Easy!

Many people are interested in composting but do not have the yard space or the ability to have their own compost bin. Ramsey County offers FREE organic waste recycling opportunities. Residents of Ramsey County are encouraged to bring their organic materials to the Ramsey County Yard Waste site (except Arden Hills). Organics can be collected from daily use around the home or from events such as hosting a block party, graduation, family reunion or any other gathering. If you are planning an event, Ramsey County can provide you with various containers for waste (standard recycling containers, organics containers and more).

To get started recycling organics in your home, collect organics in a compostable bag. Compostable bags are available for FREE at every drop off site or at Shoreview City Hall. They can also be purchased at any local store, just be sure the bag is compostable and labeled biodegradable. Then, simply bring your organics to one of Ramsey County’s many yard waste sites (except Arden Hills). Dumpsters are clearly marked at the yard waste sites for organic recycling. Before you leave, remember to grab more compostable bags for your next batch of organics.

Tips to Get Started

  • Remember that these bags are meant to break down. It is recommended not to store organics in a compostable bag for more than one week.
  • Line a trash can or another small container with a compost bag to start collecting organics.
  • Store full bags outside in the winter (in an enclosed area) or in a freezer until you are able to bring them to the compost site.
  • Find a neighbor who is also interested in organics recycling to share the responsibility of taking organics to the drop off site.
  •  A commercial composter is used for this program. They use equipment that breaks down materials that cannot be composted in a backyard situation. If you have a backyard compost bin, consider taking advantage of this program for those items you are not allowed to place in your backyard bin such as meat, grease, and bones. 

What is Compostable?

  • ALL food waste! (vegetables, fruits, meats, oils, grease, bones, fish, grains, dairy, egg shells, coffee grounds… the list goes on and on!) 
  • Non-recyclable paper (greasy pizza boxes, paper towels, paper cups, tissues, wrapping paper, boxes, etc.)
  • Anything that has a “compostable” logo on the item or packaging
  • Cotton balls, cotton swabs, pet fur, hair, lint, full vacuum bags (containing organic materials only)
  • Bird seed and pet food

What is NOT Compostable?

  • Plastics, metals, glass, Styrofoam, wood, rubber and liquids
  • Diapers (including biodegradable diapers)
  • Kitty litter, animal feces, and dead animals
  • Normally composted items that are tainted with chemicals (paper towels used for cleaning)

Where to Take It?


Take your organics to any of Ramsey County’s Yard Waste sites EXCEPT for Arden Hills. The sites are open limited hours in the winter to allow for year round composting!

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