Keeping Up Composting During COVID-19

March 28, 2020

[Updated 7/27/20]

Due to the need to limit person-to-person contact and redirect personnel to essential services during the COVID-19 outbreak, all food scrap drop-off sites in the city, including the ones managed by GrowNYC, are closed until further notice (please see this Important Notice on the Suspension of GrowNYC’s Recycling Programs).  Beginning Monday, March 23, any food scraps left at closed Food Scrap Drop-off sites will be disposed of as trash. GrowNYC’s Greenmarkets remain open for food access purposes only, so while you can continue to get fresh, local produce at our markets, you can’t compost there for now.

The good news?  The heroes at the NYC Department of Sanitation continue to deploy core operations to keep the city safe and sanitary, including curbside refuse and recycling collections.  While the Curbside Composting program is not yet available to all New Yorkers, it remains available in current neighborhoods through May 3. The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) will temporarily suspend curbside composting service beginning on Monday, May 4, 2020. The suspension is currently planned through June 30, 2021.

For a list of community-driven food scrap drop-off locations and pick-up services, this list has been created by @ahealthyblueprint. To schedule a pick-up of textiles for a fee, please contact Wearable Collections. ​

How to Keep Composting When Food Scrap Drop-Off Sites are Temporarily Closed

1)      Reduce Food Waste

Creating less waste is always best.  Learn how to store produce, check the shelf life for fruits and veggies, use up or preserve what you can’t use right away, get creative with your cooking, and learn some foods you can regrow from scraps

2)      Compost at Home

Compost the way New Yorkers did “back in the day” with a home composting system.  Dust off your backyard bin,or order an indoor worm bin.  Either way, composting is a great activity to keep busy, teach kids science, and finally get that pet you’ve been wanting! 

Outdoor Composting

If you have access to private outdoor space, this is an option for you! If you already have an outdoor compost bin, all you’ll need to get started are some leaves and food scraps.  Brush up on outdoor composting with this guide from the NYC Compost Project.  If you don’t yet have a bin, you can purchase online, find plans to make your own, or simply drill holes in a metal trash can. Remember that composting is an active, controlled process that requires effort beyond simply separating your food scraps and putting them outside. Scraps must be covered and properly managed--especially important in an urban environment! 

             Indoor Composting

No outdoor space? Do not despair! You can feed your food scraps to red wigglers, the most adorable and most voracious worms out there.  If you have a lidded plastic bin and a drill, this can be a very cheap DIY project for just the cost of some red wiggler worms, which you can purchase online. If you’d rather buy a ready-to-use worm bin, search online for a bin that suits your needs and style.  

To get started composting with worms, check out the NYC Compost Project’s  indoor composting guide and keep a troubleshooting guide handy for reference as you go.  We recommend freezing fruit scraps to prevent fruit flies and adding small amounts of food at a time as your worms adjust (Note: worms can be picky. They love apples, but aren’t so fond of citrus rinds).  Stick with it and you’ll have fun watching the process and creating food for your plants. 


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