You've likely noticed the New York Compost Box that arrived earlier last month on 11th Street just east of First Avenue.
There is a story about this, if you haven't heard about it. The repurposed newspaper box comes courtesy of Debbie Ullman, an urban gardener who worked in the graphics department at the Daily News for nearly a decade.
The onetime East Village resident (who now lives uptown) came up with the idea for the project as a repository for New Yorkers to get rid of their food scraps whenever it's convenient for them.
Here's more about it via the New York Compost website:
The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) reports that a third of what New Yorkers throw away is food scraps. When this material is sent to a landfill, it adds to the city’s disposal costs and ultimately contributes to the rise in greenhouse gas emissions. When composted, food scraps and other organic waste become a nutrient-rich additive that improves soil quality for street trees and gardens. This reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides, helps prevent erosion and suppresses certain plant diseases.
The New York Compost Box Project complements the DSNY’s Organics Collection program by offering an innovative way to divert food waste from landfills and raise awareness about urban composting.
There are three boxes in use: on Governors Island, at the Urban Garden Center on Park Avenue and 116th Street in East Harlem, and on 11th Street outside the East Side High School Community Garden. (Someone donated a newspaper box to her. She bought the other two from a prop company.)
The box on 11th Street is being maintained by Laura Rosenshine, who runs Reclaimed Organics. There is a lock on the box (otherwise, the contents will likely end up on someone's windshield). You can contact her via this website to obtain the combination. There is a bucket inside the box in which people then drop their scraps. The boxes contain sealed bins, which are emptied daily. (Find more FAQs here, including what is allowed in the box.)
Ullman shared a few thoughts on the project with us...
I think the DSNY is doing an incredible job with their Organics pilot. My boxes aren't meant to replace that. I don't think that the newspaper boxes are the solution. They are a fun and memorable way for people to stop and think about composting. The fun takes the "ick factor" out a bit for people. And scraps can be dropped off anytime it's convenient.
They are a response to the social community and public space, meant to stimulate community involvement and interaction. I wanted to create an unexpected experience and just to remind people to think about disposing of their organics properly. The surprise element is a way to reach people who might not have been interested otherwise.
I'm feeling great about the project. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. A lot of it is just getting it seen and spreading the word. If it gets even a few non-composters participating, then it will have been a success.