Household trash transforms into organic treasure

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You can make Riverdale cleaner and greener — right from your kitchen counter.

The city’s sanitation department expanded its NYC Organics program into the area served by Community Board 8, delivering 1,700 brown bins to neighborhoods starting next week.

The voluntary program asks residents to sort trash collecting food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste, placing them in brown bins supplied by the department.

“It great to see something that was just the fringe people … (were) doing that is now so mainstream,” said Jodie Colón, project manager for the NYC Compost Project at the New York Botanical Garden.

Through the Botanical Garden, Colón trains people to go out into the community teaching residents about separating household and yard items to be later used for compost. They also show how to use compost in their own planting projects. The overall training program is funded by a sanitation department grant.

“It’s a way for people to take the yard and garden care to another level,” she said. “And, the best part of it is it has all of those social benefits of engaging people in something, some common goal and cause that’s tangible.”

Colón has been involved with efforts for more than a decade. Locally, one of the organizations scheduled to receive the compost created by the program is the Church of the Mediator in Kingsbridge. Next month, it will get a shipment of compost and will then teach residents how to use the material, and also have composting material for themselves.

“Having this compost available from the city through the program that’s reducing the waste, it’s generating compost that can be used to create healthy plants, healthy people, (and a) healthy planet,” Colón said.

Single-family homes and buildings with nine units or less are automatically enrolled in NYC Organics. They will receive kits containing an indoor container — which could be placed on the counter — an instruction manual, and an outdoor or larger bin, department spokeswoman Belinda Mager said. Pickup for such materials begins Sept. 4.

Buildings with 10 or more units, who are interested in being at part of NYC Organics, must enroll to receive materials.

Nearly 33 percent, or 1.1 million tons, of everything New Yorkers toss out each year is organic waste, according to a 2105 sanitation department report.

The program here isn’t new, however. In 2015, the sanitation department distributed 2,700 bins to homeowners throughout central Riverdale. The expansion includes not just other parts of CB8, Mager said, but also Community Board 12, which includes Eastchester, Olinville and Williamsbridge.

The program is expected to expand citywide by 2018.

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