Rockland Rocks at Recycling: Turning organic waste into something useful

Third installment of a multi-part series

BY KERRY SCALES
Rockland Solid Waste Authority

unnamed (7) unnamed (8) unnamed (9)By definition, organic materials come from plants or animals and are biodegradable. Leaves, brush, grass and food waste are all biodegradable and therefore, can be composted. Rockland County has three compost sites where yard waste organics can be turned back into a usable and quite beneficial product, compost.

Thanks to our municipal curbside collection service, residents can place their leaves, brush and grass into brown biodegradable leaf bags to be composted. In addition, each municipality receives finished compost and mulch product for beautification and distribution to their residents.

But what about managing organics at the source where it is generated? Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or you prefer to hire the services of a landscaper, we can all help reduce pollution and processing costs by eliminating manpower, transportation and processing by composting at home. Some of us are already doing some form of composting.

When you leave your grass clippings on the lawn after mowing, you are allowing beneficial nutrients to return to the soil and roots of the grass. Maybe you are mixing your leaves back into the soil as you get ready to winterize your garden. Backyard composting is nothing new – our ancestors did it all the time. Visit www.rocklandrecycles.com to see our Grasscycling brochure.

And what about all of those food scraps that get tossed in the trash? Banana peels, apple cores, salad scraps and the like, can also be composted. You can create your own system for composting or purchase special bins that can be more convenient or aesthetically appealing.

Compost bins and rain barrels can be purchased from the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority or Cornell Cooperative Extension at cost. Compost bins will run you $55 and rain barrels $75. For more information on backyard composting visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension website at www.rocklandcce.org.

So as we prepare our yards for winter and before we throw our food scraps in the trash, think about starting a compost pile right in your own backyard. Especially since nature does most of the work and you get to reap the greatest benefit – free fertilizer for your lawn and plants. Compost is a natural fertilizer that will save you time and money, requiring less watering, fertilizing, mowing and overall maintenance.

This series is intended to educate the public about available services and the economic benefits that go along with it. Next week’s edition will focus on our Household Hazardous Waste Facility. For more information you can visit the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority’s website at www.rocklandrecycles.com.