Your Complete Guide To Hassle-Free Composting In NYC

Composting In NYC

Your Complete Guide To Hassle-Free Composting In NYC. Photo via LES Ecology Center; Edited by Epicure & Culture

By Renee Crowley of the LES Ecology Center

When traveling, you’re often giving up the comforts of your daily routine to explore and visit new cities (and break up those aforementioned potentially monotonous routines); however, some routines are worth keeping, such as composting. When you’re busy navigating a new metro system and a foreign urban landscape it may initially seem challenging to make sure your banana peels and apple cores stay out of a landfill; but rest assured, New York City has abundant opportunities for you to drop-off your food scraps for composting.

The NYC Compost Project and GrowNYC operate food scrap drop off sites all over the city where you can drop off your organic waste and be on your way. This allows you to not only do something good for the environment, but also live like a local. Alternatively, explore the local neighborhood for a community garden that has a public composting program and drop-off your scraps with them.

If you’re looking for some compost tourism and want to participate in some NYC composting history, bring your food scraps to the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s food scrap collection site at the popular Union Square Greenmarket. This site is one of the longest running food scrap drop collection programs in the City, and operates from 8am to 5pm four days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Moreover, this farmer’s market is chock full of tasty local bites, not to mention free tastings of locally-cured meats, artisanal spirits, neighborhood-centric rooftop honeys, spicy salsas and more.

Yes, in #NYC, 'compost tourism' is a thing! #green #eco Click To Tweet
composting in NYC

Union Square Green Market via LES Ecology Center

The Big Question

You can probably see by now the question isn’t so much where you can drop off your food scraps, but how to efficiently save them when you’re busy sightseeing in NYC.

  • The easiest option is checking to see if you are nearby a food scrap drop off site that is in operation, and drop any organic waste into a compost bin instead of a trash receptacle.
  • Carry a reusable wet bag or a grocery bag (that you might have just gotten when you purchased a local good). Place your apple cores and banana peels in your bag and save until you are nearby a food scrap drop off site. If you’re worried about making a mess, add a few shreds of newspaper to your bag.
  • Store food scraps in your accommodation’s fridge or freezer to help reduce odors.
Composting In NYC

Compost via LES Ecology Center

Learning About Composting In NYC

If you’re interested in more compost tourism, you can include a visit to Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center, located out on the historic Governor’s Island. They showcase a variety of composting methods and care for upwards of 60 animals (50,000 if you count the worms and bees!). It is a place where you can learn about composting, dig your hands in the Earth and learn about the island’s zero-waste program.

Being a responsible traveler goes far beyond composting. Here are a few extra tips on adopting sustainable waste management practices when traveling:

  • Research local recycling programs so that you can recycle everything properly. Remember, not everywhere is the same.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle to avoid the use of plastic water bottles.
  • Carry a set of camping utensils and never use a plastic spork again.
  • Pack a tote or cloth bag to cut down on the use of plastic bags when shopping.
  • Be mindful of food waste when dining at restaurants or bring your own containers for left over food you might have.
Think you're too busy to #compost while #traveling? It's actually quite simple. Click To Tweet

Composting offers multiple environmental benefits — it reduces the carbon emissions from garbage transport and the methane emissions from decaying food. It also cuts down on the amount of dissolved nutrients that may overload groundwater and streams surrounding a garbage dump. By composting, you help to decrease the amount of food waste going to landfills and help create a greener and healthier New York City.

If you have any questions about composting in NYC you can reach out to the NYC Compost Project hosted by the Lower East Side Ecology Center at


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Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

1 Comment

  1. I could not agree with you more, and I absolutely love that this project is happening in one of the largest cities and attractions in the world. It’s so important to get tourist involved in these movements when they’re visiting new areas. This is fantastic!

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