Curbside Compost

Saturday March 30, 2013

Hey, all you cave dwellers! There’s an opportunity coming I think you should know about -- you can sign up for Curbside Compost!

You don’t have to do it. It’s up to you. You can just stay in your cave and chew on that mastodon bone and forget there is a new world coming or you can start to walk upright -- out to your curb, once a week, with that mastodon bone and a host of other organics that you have been blindly tossing into that pit (i.e. landfill) out back.

Choose? Yes, you have to actually make the choice to break out of your comfortable, dull routine and commit to change ... or you can yawn, scratch your behind and go back to chewing on that bone.

Nearly 600 of your Brattleboro neighbors have already stood erect, held their hand high and said, "Yes! I want be a part of the Vermont’s first Curbside Compost program."

Why? What’s the benefit? First, food scraps and other organic material make up about 33 percent of your cave’s waste. Food scraps, having a large water content, weigh a lot. For every ton of compost that gets taken from the curb, the town and its taxpayers are going to save $55. That adds up to big bucks over the course of a year!

Second, our trash is being trucked over 200 miles, round trip, to a landfill in Moretown. Driving all that way and back makes a carbon footprint about the size of the brontosaurus you rode to work. Buried there, it takes up valuable space and reduces the life of the landfill.

Third, the food scraps and organics in the landfill produce methane, a nasty greenhouse gas.

Fourth, the food scraps and organics you put out to your curb weekly will get taken to the Windham Solid Waste Management District -- about a five-mile round trip. Let’s see Š in comparison, the carbon footprint the size of a mouse.

Four reasons aren’t enough? I’ll give you a fifth, maybe the best one of all -- you’ll feel good about yourself! Your neighbors will appreciate that you are composting curbside. You will get to look down your nose at those on your street who chose not to participate and put out huge bags of organic laden trash every week. You’ll see how wasteful the old routines are.

Here is some basic information about Brattleboro’s Curbside Compost program:

* It is open to anyone who currently gets their trash and recycling picked up curbside by the town.

* It will start in late April or early May, 2013. Yikes! That’s about four weeks from now.

* The town is purchasing two sizes of curbside carts for use in the program. A nominal fee of $7 or $10 will be charged for the carts to help stretch our tax dollars. The fee charged is about 25 percent of the retail price so, unless you already have a suitable container, you won’t be able to beat the price.

* Compost, trash and recycling will be picked up every week -- yes, all three, EVERY WEEK! No more needing to remember if this is your week or not for recycling. Poking your head out of the cave a bit, are you?

Hey, I’ve got a picture of your great-great grandparents. They look real healthy -- sort of salt-of-the-earth healthy, but wearing weird clothes. Don’t believe me? Just search You Tube for "Brattleboro Curbside Composting." After you’re done half sniffling, half smiling with warm memories and wiping the tears from your eyes, you can watch and see how the world is changing!

Next time I’ll answer more questions you might have like, odor, animal, and insect issues. Hint -- they are less when curbside composting than what you are doing now. No way! Yes, way!

I’ll write about compostable bags, kitchen containers, and curbside carts. I’ll write about what you can put in your curbside cart -- you will be amazed. Guaranteed!

Or, if you can’t wait for the next column, just go to the town’s website ( There you can sign up for Curbside Compost or if you’re just "window shopping," you can click on "What’s OK and What’s Not" to find out what you can put in your curbside compost cart. You can also click on the "FAQ" (Frequently Asked Questions). Then you can write the next column because all the answers are right there. Still stumped? E-mail your questions to or call the town at 251-8103.

Come out of your cave. It’s time step out of the Neolithic age and into the Curbside Compost Age.


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