The Takeaway

Turning Human Corpses Into Compost

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Urban Death Project wants to bring sustainability and peace to our social practices of death and dying by taking deceased human bodies and turning them into nutrient rich compost. 

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New York City's Food Recycling Program is Expanding

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thirty-five thousand more households will be included in this latest expansion. 


The Leonard Lopate Show

Restaurants Reducing Food Waste in NYC

Friday, April 26, 2013

More than 100 restaurants will participate in the first-ever Food Waste Challenge, a new City program to reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfills and the greenhouse gases that waste produces. Elizabeth Balkan, senior policy advisor for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability tells us about the program, participants, and the city's goals of reducing waste.


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Compost for the Community

Sunday, April 21, 2013


A project aimed at improving soil and bringing fresh food production to underserved communities launches in New York City Monday.


It's A Free Country ®

Morning Fodder: Four Tweetables from the IAFC and BL Show Crews

Thursday, April 28, 2011

From the dirt in our 'backyard' to the 'least disputable thing a politician has ever said,' a look at four stories the IAFC and Brian Lehrer Show folks are perusing on this Thursday morning. 



Urban Composters Go to Extremes

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My talks with New Yorkers about their extraordinary efforts to compost made me look at what I was doing with my food scraps...and inspired me to stop throwing them out in the trash.  I've started collecting them so that someone ELSE can compost them.  I used to have a backyard, with a garden a small pond, and a black plastic compost bin when I lived in Boerum Hill. [sigh!  I miss it!]  My husband and I are now in a second-floor co-op apartment in Clinton Hill.  We put our coffee grounds, eggshells, and vegetable peelings in a plastic bag in one of our refrigerator storage bins.  I briefly considered worm composting, surreptitiously, in our storage area in our building's basement, but decided not to.  It's already hard enough to get someone to take care of our three cats when we go away; how do you ask the neighbor down the hall to look in on your worms

I heard a lot of great composting stories.  Courtenay Symonds wrote me to say she's been vermicomposting for two or three years, and now has so much compost, she doesn't know what to do with it.  "I have tried everything from giving compost fashioning seed-bombs from flower seeds and compost for distribution to friends and others who like to bomb open, unused urban spaces with wildflowers come spring." 

Our own Fred Mogul e-mailed me about one of the people featured in my story, Dianne Debicella, who wants to use her compost in her planters.  "I hope your would-be container gardener knows about drainage," says Fred.  He suggests mixing the compost with good ol' potting soil. "Compost soaks up water like a sponge, and drainage is as or more important to plants as the nutrients they get from compost, especially in pots."  He says we shouldn't "romanticize" compost; "It's just one small part of growing stuff successfully."

David Calligeros, with Remains Lighting, wrote me to say his company recently opened a 25,000 square foot factory in Bushwick, and it's building a big garden in the side yeard.  "One of the features of it," he writes, "will be a compost pile!"  [Notice the exclamation point.  Yes, composting makes people happy.]  David also says he's experimented with "compostable" partyware -- corn-based cups, potato-based forks and knives, and sugar cane-based plats.  He reports the plates disappeared, but "the rest of that stuff is a bunch of hooey.  I've picked almost all of the cups out of my compost this spring, completely pristine and untransformed.  They are now in the recycling bin, awaiting plastic pick-up day."

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