Today is the deadline for Peekskill residents to place an order for an indoor or outdoor food scrap composter and a rain barrel. The prices are offered at a 50 percent discount because Peekskill’s Conservation Advisory Council is partnering with and placing orders through the Greenburgh Nature Center. Order and pay online today at www.westchestercompostersale.ecwid.com. Once an order is placed, you can pick up the item at the parking lot by the swimming pool in Depew Park on Saturday, July 25, from 9 to 12.
The products for sale facilitate backyard composting where an individual collects their food scraps and composts it on their property. Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 28 percent of what is thrown away, taking up space in landfills and releasing the greenhouse gas methane. Methane traps 21 times as much heat in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
There are many benefits to composting. When food scraps and yard clippings de-compose they create an organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. In addition to enriching soil, compost helps retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests. Compost reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that breakdown organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.
This effort in Peekskill is spearheaded by the Conservation Advisory Council, a group of nine citizen volunteers who meet monthly to build awareness, support and encourage responsible management and protection of Peekskill’s natural resources and parks. The group, established by the Common Council in 2011, is also responsible for producing and maintaining an inventory and map system of all open space and wetland areas for the purpose of advising on ecologically suitable uses of such areas. They regularly submit comments to city boards such as planning and historic preservation regarding development projects.
In addition to composting bins, rain barrels are offered for sale. The advantage of collecting rainwater avoids misusing city water which you pay for. Rainwater going into barrels keeps it from going into storm drains where water run-off from lawns that have been treated with chemical fertilizers ends up in the river.
Kay Barthelmes, chairperson of the CAC, said an ideal program for a city like Peekskill where many residents are renters and do not have access to a yard is to take advance of the already established Saturday drop-off for household waste run by the city at its site on Lower South and Louisa Streets.
If the city buys into this idea, residents could bring food scraps to the site. If food scraps were accepted there, it would make it convenient for residents to compost even if they didn’t have a backyard or in-home composter.
Currently, Westchester municipalities take their food scraps to a compost recycling site in Kingston which involves a carting cost. However, a new composting site is being constructed at the Town of Cortlandt’s Annsville Industrial Park and it would be ideal for Peekskill to take its food scraps to the site. Sustainable Materials Management is the first New York State DEC approved site in Westchester. The CAC is currently working on the cost savings to the city to divert food scraps out of the garbage stream that goes to the county garbage burning plant on John Walsh Blvd. where municipalities pay by the ton to bring garbage to the plant.
Educating the public about eliminating food scraps from entering the waste stream is energy well-spent. In Vermont if you toss a banana peel or a pizza crust into the garbage you will be violating the Universal Recycling Law that went into effect July 1 which prohibits food scraps from entering the waste stream. Vermont is the first state in the country to ban food scraps in the garbage.
Peekskill’s CAC produced a flyer about food composting in English and Spanish. Details from the flyer are at right.