• Recycling & Waste Committee

Composting at Home in Montclair

Simply put: compost is made by controlling the natural process of decomposition. At-home composting can be done easily, by simply combining any plant-based kitchen scraps – including veggie and fruit peelings, stalks, cores, spoiled produce, coffee grounds, etc. – with leaves, grass clippings, and garden pruning's from your backyard. The key elements to producing good compost are mixing “greens” (moist items like the kitchen scraps, or grass clippings) with “browns” (dry items like autumn leaves or twigs), piling them up in a backyard bin, and mixing (“turning”) them weekly to enable the healthy microorganisms and worms (your decomposers) to have enough air and water. Over a few months’ time, with the right blend and weekly turning, your compost heap will become a healthy, nutrient-rich, organic soil “conditioner” that can be added as a “nutrient booster” into cultivated garden soils, or as a mulch around trees and shrubs.


Home composting is one of the basic steps to simple, responsible yard care and sustainable gardening; at the same time, it is an important environmental action anyone can do in their own backyard.


The stuff is nicknamed “Black Gold” for a reason: it can be used as humus, a soil amendment which improves the structure, nutrient content, fertility, and the moisture-holding capability of garden soil; or, as mulch, a top dressing which prevents compaction, erosion and weeds. Both “homemade garden miracle” products are known by one name: compost!

Composting is also a climate change mitigation strategy. Decomposing food scraps with yard waste results in a rich, crumbly soil conditioner teeming with healthy microbial life. Using compost in your garden soil enhances its ability to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere – as a carbon “sink” – and return it into the earth for storage. Plus, keeping kitchen scraps out of landfills prevents huge emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.


What is Montclair's Home Composting Program?

All of the leaves and grass clippings which Montclair residents bag and drag to the curb (in paper yard waste bags) are collected and hauled out of town to a large-scale, professional composting facility, where they are transformed into compost which is sold to landscapers.


There are currently two options for composting food scraps in Montclair:


1) Do it in your own backyard

Residents can compost leaves, grass clippings, yard trimmings, garden prunings, and certain kitchen scraps.


Fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen may be added to your compost bin: no animal products. So, no meat, chicken, nor fish; no bones, grease, fat, nor dairy. There is one popular exception to that rule: eggshells are fine.


Residents may purchase low-cost compost bins simply by emailing Lana Mustafa at Montclair Community Farms lana@montclaircommunityfarms.org, to make an appointment for a pick-up. The compost bin we sell is the Earth Machine, the most commonly sold bin in the country. Retailing for over $100, Montclair residents can purchase the bin, made from recycled plastic, for $57, about half price; a helpful turning tool is also sold, at cost, for $15.


2) Compost pick-up service.

Many Montclair residents use the services of Java Compost. They pick up compost from your door step weekly or bi-weekly. Read more here .

Composting is easy, fascinating, fulfilling, and fun!