As I See It: Now is a good time for composting

By removing food scraps from the waste stream, we can help the planet and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash
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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

If you’ve ever thought about composting, now would be a great time to start. With whole families living and eating at home full time, we are bound to generate significantly more waste than when we were all spending our days at school and work.

We’re also no longer eating in restaurants or traveling. This all adds up to more waste, about half of which is food waste by weight.

Why compost? Our city’s waste goes to an incinerator, and the greater the amount of trash we burn, the more energy is needed. Damp organic waste is harder to burn efficiently, requiring the incinerator to run even longer at higher temperatures.

By removing food scraps from the waste stream, we can help the planet and mitigate the effects of climate change. What’s more, everything that we throw in the compost bin will get turned into fertile soil that will improve planting and farming efforts, making composting a real win/win!

Newburyport residents have three composting options. If you want to do your own composting in your backyard, you can purchase an Earth Machine composter from City Hall for $25.

Another option is to drop off your food waste in a paper or certified compostable bag at the bin at the wastewater treatment plant on Water Street. The third option is to sign up for Black Earth’s weekly curbside pickup for $1.89 per week.

If you’ve ever tried backyard composting, you may have been turned off by the smell and the mess. In this case, I highly recommend signing up for Black Earth’s weekly pickup service online at

Because they’re a professional facility, you can compost even more than you could in your backyard, including meat, bones, paper towels, coffee filters and oily pizza boxes.

Black Earth uses all composted material to create nutrient-rich soil, great for gardening and planting projects. When you sign up, you can choose to have bags of this soil delivered to your home at no additional cost.

This would allow you to go a step further by ordering some seeds and creating a garden in your backyard. Alternatively, you can opt to have your share of the soil donated to local community garden efforts.

If you have children at Molin/Nock or Newburyport High School, they have some experience with composting in the school cafeteria. Plans are in the works to expand composting to Bresnahan in the fall.

Ask your kids what they’ve learned about composting and get them involved in this easy and effective way to reduce waste and promote environmental stewardship at home.

This column was coordinated by ACES YOUTH CORPS member, Eleni Protopapas. To share any comments or questions, please send an email to To learn more about ACES and our Youth Leadership Initiative, please view our WEBSITE –

Sarah Hall is a member of the city’s Waste Stream Task Force and secretary of the ACES board of directors.

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about the author
Sarah Hall

Sarah is a lifelong educator who is equally comfortable both in the classroom and the outdoors. In her current position as a Teacher/Naturalist for Mass Audubon, she is committed to helping children feel wonder and connection with the natural world in order to foster environmental stewardship. As an ACES advisor/mentor, she is a key member of the team focused on leading the effort to reduce waste and support the overall "Compost for a Healthier Newburyport" campaign which is promoting composting throughout the Newburyport community.

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