Composting comes to Spring St., twice a week

Dumping vegetable scraps at Spring St. and Sixth Ave. at the composting drop-off spot. Photos by Tequila Minsky
Dumping vegetable scraps at Spring St. and Sixth Ave. at the composting drop-off spot. Photos by Tequila Minsky

BY TEQUILA MINSKY AND LINCOLN ANDERSON | The term “scrappy New Yorkers” is taking on added meaning at a spot on the Lower West Side where local residents are flocking — well, twice weekly, for now — to drop off their banana peels, broccoli stems and coffee grounds.

Part of a city-funded program to encourage residents to separate out their organic matter for composting, the drop-off site is in operation at Spring St. and Sixth Ave. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., right outside the C/E subway station entrance.

Along with the aforementioned fruit and vegetable scraps and coffee grounds, other organic matter acceptable at the compost collection hot spot includes things like eggshells and nutshells, stale beans, flour, spices, flowers, houseplants and potting soil.

Not accepted are meat, dairy, fats, diseased plants and metal, glass or plastic. And, please note, these composters don’t take any s—, as in feces also is not accepted.

An information sheet recommends that to eliminate odors at home and at the drop-off site, residents should store food scraps in their freezer or refrigerator.

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Called the New York City Compost Project, the initiative is part of a city Department of Sanitation-funded program in partnership with GrowNYC. The Spring St. site is one of about a half dozen run by the Lower East Side Ecology Center. This one — dubbed a “commuter composting drop-off spot” — is meant to serve residents from the Soho, South Village, Hudson Square and Little Italy areas.

On a recent drop-off day, neighbors were spotted carrying plastic containers or baggies filled with sundry vegetable peelings. One woman dumped in her potato peelings, from a shepherd’s pie she had made.

One dad with a baby in a stroller walked over from Mott St. and emptied four plastic bags. It’s about equidistant to Union Square, where there is another drop-off spot, he noted.

While the separation of paper, glass and metal waste has been going on for years, separating household organic matter has never been encouraged, until recently. Now this organic waste will eventually become a nutrient-rich additive to help build New York City’s soils.

While the Department of Sanitation has launched a household composting program in northern Brooklyn, for one, a spokesperson said they plan to move more slowly in Manhattan. For now, at least, there are the drop-off sites.

There are currently 65 composting sites in the program, many in conjunction with neighborhood Greenmarkets. Others locally include the East Village, at First Ave. and Houston St., on Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.; the Union Square Greenmarket, at E. 17th St. and Union Square West, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the Tribeca Greenmarket, at Greenwich and Chambers Sts., on Saturdays year-round; and Chelsea, at W. 23rd St. and Eighth Ave., on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.