Do you compost? That’s the question to put to your neighbors this Wednesday when you see those bright green bins used to gather food and other organic waste as part of Princeton’s green recycling program. Volunteers will be out adding stickers to the containers this week. “We’ll be blinging the bins,” says Diane Landis, executive director of Sustainable Princeton.
The program collects biodegradable material every Wednesday, in carts provided by Central Jersey Waste. Everything from orange peel to egg shells, chicken bones to leftover pizza is potential compost. Not only that, those messy pizza boxes, paper towels, and napkins can also be tossed into the bright green bins, along with sticks and branches.
According to the town’s website, food waste and other organic matter make up more than half a typical household’s weekly trash collection.
Designed to keep food waste out of landfills, the program began in June 2011, with a three-month trial collecting curbside organic waste. So successful was the pilot, gathering 60 tons of waste, that the program expanded. To date 500 Princeton households have joined, said Ms. Landis.
Recycling such waste is not only good for the planet it reduces energy use, which is part of Sustainable Princeton’s mission. By partnering with Princeton residents, businesses, schools, local government, and community groups, the 501c(3) non-profit hopes to reduce waste by 50 percent in Princeton by 2016, and energy generated by fossil fuels by 20 percent by 2020.
The group, which includes Mayor Liz Lempert on its board, was born of a partnership between the Princeton Environmental Commission and the New Jersey Sustainability State Institute.
Taking part in a collective composting exercise can be even more efficient than individual backyard composting since large compost files are covered and generate sufficient heat to break down items not usually recommended for home composting, such as bones and fish skins. It is estimated that such organic items become compost in just 80 days after they are collected.
To date, Jefferson Road has the most curbsiders, with 15 homes currently enrolled in the program. Dodds Lane is a close second with 11 homes. Sustainable Princeton is offering a prize to the first street in Princeton that goes green by having every house signed up for collection. Following behind Jefferson Road and Dodds Lane, are Mt. Lucas Road and Moore Street, with eight homes so far; Clover Lane, Snowden Lane, and Herrontown Road, with seven; Turner Court and Hawthorne Street, with five; and Woodland Drive, with four. Regatta Row, which has only four homes on the entire street, might well prove the winner. So far, three homes are enrolled, so just one more to go to become the first street in Princeton to become entirely organic.
To join the program, simply fill out a registration form and mail it with a payment of $65 to Janet Pellichero at the Department of Public Works; 1 Monument Drive, Princeton, N.J. 08540. The form can be downloaded from www.princetonnj.gov. For more information, call Ms. Pellichero at (609) 688-2566, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once enrolled, you’ll receive a 32 gallon wheeled and lidded cart delivered to your home along with a kitchen collector and a supply of bags (biodegradable, of course) to line it.
For those keen to learn more about composting, the Master Gardeners of Mercer County present, “Composting: Creating your own Black Gold,” on Sunday, April 7, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Mercer Educational Gardens, 431 A Federal City Road, Pennington. The free demonstration will show how to turn kitchen scraps, leaves, plant clippings and other materials into “Black Gold” that enriches soil and improves its structure.
Master Gardeners will show ways to make composting bins from wood pallets and, since the demonstration site is located right next to the Mercer County Equestrian Center, participants will have an opportunity to visit the Center’s barn and pick up manure to take home. A lidded container is needed and a donation of $3 to benefit the Master Gardeners of Mercer County’s educational programs, is suggested.
For more information, visit www.mgofmc.org.