Composting in the Washington DC area can be as big or little as you want to make it. From backyard bins to delivery services, there are plenty of options for any budget and eco-friendly lifestyle.
Composting at Home
Whether you’re in an apartment or have a house with a backyard, there are several options for composting yourself. Ideally, if you have a backyard, you can start a compost pile anywhere. If you live in DC, you’ll want to contain the compost in a bin to keep vermin out of it. The easiest way to accomplish this is with a tumbling composter. Simply load your green and brown debris and turn every couple of days to aerate the pile. If you live in an apartment without access to a yard, you still have options to use an electronic composter that turns the piles for you and keeps the compost warm so that it breaks down. Or you can compost with worms, called vermicomposting. The worms are by far the best in terms of nutrient-dense compost, but require a bit more maintenance than the other options.
328 Bush Chapel Road
Aberdeen, MD 21001
If you live in DC and parts of Maryland, you can leave scraps for Veterans Compost to pick up. Whether you contribute or not, you can still reap the benefit of its composting services. Compost is available from smaller 20-pound bags up to bulk. For those cultivating food, gardeners will speak of “black gold” compost, which is compost made from worms. If you want to start your own vermicompost bin, you can pick up everything that you’ll need at this farm.
DC’s Mayor Vincent Gray has started a sustainable DC movement and one of the committees is composting. The district will see more and more options to drop off organic scraps. In the meantime, here are some community options for compost.
Fort Totten Transfer Station
4900 John McCormack Drive N.E.
Washington, DC 20011
The DC Department of Public Works offers DC residents free compost. At the Fort Totten Transfer Station, residents can bring their own bags and snag up to five 32-gallon bags of the scraps on weekdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Because these are mostly leaves and other wood chips, it is not recommended for those looking to keep an organic edible garden. The compost is perfect for plants and yard fertilization.
Common Good City Farm
V St. N.W. and 2nd St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Community gardens are a great place to drop off kitchen scraps that you can’t compost in your area. Paper and food scraps are accepted in this easy-to-drop-off compost center. Common Good City Farms uses the scraps collected at its Le Droit Park location to make fertilizer that will be used on the farm. The organization asks that you not include animal scraps as they tend to attract pests. Drop scraps off anytime by just reaching through the fence and dropping them in the barrel.
For those that have a sustainable passion but a lack of time to compost, there are several options to have your scraps picked up and some even offer compost to their long-term customers so you can reap the rewards of your efforts. Either way, keeping organic matter out of the garbage will help to decrease the problem of landfill capacity and turn it back into food.
Washington, DC 20056
Composting at home or in the community many not always be a feasible option for some Washingtonians. If you can’t get your scraps to someone, but the sustainability geek inside you screams at the thought of throwing away organic scraps, the Compost Cab will pick your scraps up once a week. It delivers the scraps to nearby local farms for as little as $32 per month and leaves you with a lined bin that you fill with your food scraps and then leave out on a schedule. Compost Cab leaves you with a clean bin each week.
Fat Worm Compost
4401-A Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
For those that wish to reap the benefits of their kitchen scrap collection, there’s the Fat Worm Compost. This delivery service picks up your scraps from a five-gallon bucket that offers a lid to keep odors and pests away. It picks up the scraps on a weekly basis. In the spring, the compost is available to well-established customers that have been with Fat Worm for at least six months. Pricing depends on the level of scraps and days that they need to pick up. A one-bin household that needs a pick-up only once a week can start the program for as little as $30 per month.
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Jamie Hardin is the counter-culture
Washingtonian in the know. Inspired by food, sustainability issues, and public health, she prides herself on finding DC’s off-the-beaten path treasures. When she isnt enjoying organic food or reducing her carbon footprint, Jamie’s traveling on her scooter or walking her two pit bulls. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.