Figueroa-Levin: NYC's new composting plan kinda stinks

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In his quest to turn New York into a green, environmentally correct bubble, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has suggested implementing a citywide composting plan.

Did I say plan? I meant requirement.

After an initial voluntary phase, within a few years everyone in the city may be required to separate garbage for composting or face fines. It's like recycling, but with rotting food.

Encouraging composting and food-waste awareness is a nice idea, sure. But thrusting it on an entire (densely populated) city could end poorly.

Here's the thing about composted food scraps: They smell. Bad. Really bad. Unless the system to collect and regulate compost is amazing, the whole city is going to smell like the Fresh Kills landfill circa 1992. Little boxes filled with food waste in every home. A (free-range, organic) chicken in every pot! A rotting box of old food in every kitchen!

I'm all for composting -- I do it myself -- but it has to be easy and contained if you're going to force the whole city to do it. Composting is easy for me. I work from home, so I have time to separate my trash. I put my leftovers in a separate bag and immediately take them to the compost heap. Are working moms going to have time to separate food scraps? Probably not. But these plans rarely take into account people who struggle.

Is the compost collection going to happen every day? Or am I to leave my food scraps conveniently separated for raccoons to feast on, instead of throwing them down the trash chute and making them work for it? The city says sealed containers for street pickup will cut down on sidewalk rats, but what about the moldering scraps still in our apartments? I see more rodents in our future. Actually, that's a fantastic way to make sure food never gets wasted: Feed it to vermin. Then we can eat (and compost the bones of) the vermin. Circle of life. -Cue music-

There are more important goals than turning everyone in the city into a bunch of compost-happy gentrified yuppies. Fixing schools comes to mind. Perhaps if we focused more on teaching our children to "speak grammar" and less on what I'm doing with this banana peel and these coffee grounds, the people of New York would be better off.

Rachel Figueroa-Levin tweets as @Jewyorican, @EveryGentrifier and @ElBloombito.


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