Visit BIC’s FREE Compost Drop-Off table
at the Block Island Farmer’s Market this summer!
Where: Legion Park (corner of Center and West Side Roads)
When: beginning June 12th, Wednesdays & Saturdays from 9:00-11:30 am
Please click here for a list of what we can accept for composting
Why should I compost?
To reduce your carbon footprint In a traditional landfill, organic waste cannot effectively break down and creates potent concentrations of greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. Also, trash from Block Island has a long journey in large, fuel-burning trucks (and ferry!) to get to the landfill.
To reduce your trash bill About 30% of a household’s waste could be composted rather than tossed in a trash bag.
Special thanks to 1661 Farm & Gardens for their help & sponsorship of the BIC’s Free Compost Drop-Off Program
Questions? Please email [email protected]
Composting with the Block Island Conservancy
When you throw an apple core, eggshells or a
head of lettuce that’s just a bit too wilted into
the trash, do you ever think about where it’s
going next? More often than not, our sense of
responsibility for our waste ends with putting the
bag in the outdoor can at the end of the day. But
your apple core, eggshell, or wilted lettuce can
take months, or even years, to fully decompose in
a traditional landfill.
Many items we regularly bag up and throw away as trash are compostable. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 24% of the material that ends up in American landfills could be diverted and used for composting.
Disposing of compostable items in landfills not only prolongs the natural breakdown process, but also produces high concentrations of methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is roughly thirty times as potent as carbon dioxide. The traditional waste stream also requires lengthy transport of trash loads to the receiving facility.
What happens to trash on Block Island?
After you drop your bag of trash at the Block Island transfer station, it’s trucked to the ferry, shipped
over to the mainland, and driven 35 miles to the Central Landfill in Johnston, RI, a landfill that is expected
to reach capacity in about 15 years.
Instead of sending your waste down this path, why not try composting, an on-island waste management solution?
What is composting?
Composting is a natural process that recycles organic material into a nutrient-rich soil amendment that is excellent for gardens. Organic material is a wide-ranging term – essentially anything that comes from the ground can be composted. Over time and in the presence of moisture and oxygen, all biodegradable materials will eventually breakdown to create compost.
Why does BIC think composting is important for Block Island?
The Block Island Conservancy’s mission is to protect the island’s natural and cultural resources. To achieve this, we must look beyond our boundaries and address the impact our actions have on the wider world. On-island waste management is one way to affect change both in and from Block Island.
Block Island’s current waste management strategy requires a lot of resources and produces a great deal of carbon and methane (potent greenhouse gases) emissions. By creating an on-island composting option, we’re able to start to cut down on the island’s overall environmental footprint.
Can I Compost at Home?
Composting at home is as simple as setting aside a space for your pile and adding organic material as it is collected. When selecting a spot for your pile, look for a dry, shady area with access to a water source. Your pile can be made directly on the ground, or you can purchase or build a container or tumbler (there are many types that can be found online or at garden centers). Aim to maintain a ratio of one-third “green” material to two-thirds “brown” material. Mix the pile by turning it over about once a week to add oxygen, which feeds the microorganisms that are working to breakdown the waste. Add water when the pile looks dry or a clump of the compost won’t hold together in your hand. To kill all weed seeds, your pile needs to reach an internal temperature of 130-150º F. You can check the temperature of your pile using a long-stemmed thermometer, or by reaching your hand deep into the pile – the compost has reached a sufficient temperature if it’s almost too hot for comfort.
The compost is done and ready to be added to your garden when you no longer discern individual items and the pile is a homogenous dark brown color. Adding compost to your garden will enrich the soil, help it to retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests, and encourage the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that breakdown organic material to produce humus, a nutrient-rich soil material.
How does BIC’s composting program work?
BIC is currently in its third year of a pilot project to better understand the demand and potential for composting on Block Island. We collect compost at the Block Island Farmer’s Market and are working on a regular off-season option for island residents. Seth Draper at the 1661 Farm & Gardens accepts the material we collect and oversees the composting process at the farm. The compost generated is then used in his farm fields.
Compost For Good
At the BIC 2021 Annual Meeting our guest speaker was John Culpepper the co-founder of the nonprofit organization, Compost for Good. He discussed the various challenges and opportunities for Block Island to develop a community wide composting program. Mr. Culpepper discussed the potential cost savings achieved by separating organics from Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) by processing the material directly on Block Island. By processing organics on island, we would save the expense of moving waste to the mainland while also producing a valuable, nutrient rich products that many gardeners and landscapers usually have to import from the mainland.
The BIC will continue our work this year to advance this opportunity by focusing on gathering community input, establishing a compost champion(s), connecting with other communities, and possibly increasing our composting capacity to keep organic nutrients here on Block Island. This helps build local resilience and improves our soil all while reducing our global greenhouse gas emissions.
For mor information on Compost for Good please visit their website.