Composting program to begin Dec. 1

Wed, 11/27/2019 - 6:15pm

It started last summer as a simple but smelly survey of trash and garbage. Jamie Johnston, owner of the trash collection business McPick, and Clair Stover, Executive Director of the Block Island Conservancy, enlisted volunteers to dig through the trash collected from 34 rental homes.

What they found was alarming. After sorting and weighing, they found that almost 30 percent of what had been tossed didn’t necessarily need to go to the landfill or could have been composted. Unopened or otherwise perfectly usable food accounted for 10 percent, as did items that could have been recycled.

It quickly turned into a quest to reduce the island’s waste — important because all of the trash generated in Rhode Island ends up at a central landfill in Johnston. And that landfill is slated to be entirely full in 14 to 15 years.

On Thursday, Nov. 14, Stover presented an idea to the Block Island Land Trust. She asked if it would be possible to use the Solviken property on Sunday mornings to collect composting materials from the general public.

Stover explained that they would have someone stationed at the Solviken on Sunday, Dec. 1, hopefully from 9 a.m. to noon to collect food scraps from anyone who wishes to drop them off.

The scraps will then be composted by Seth Draper at Abrams Animal Farm.

“We’re going to try it out,” said Stover. “Sunday’s a big dump day.”

It’s easy to recycle, but food scraps present another challenge. Not everyone has a backyard composting pile, much less a garden to use it in.

While there have been attempts to get a composting center at the transfer station, it’s more complicated than one would think. It requires, among other things, an infrastructure that adheres to all kinds of environmental regulations.

Stover hopes the composting program will continue through May.

“I like that idea,” said Barbara MacMullan, chair of the Land Trust, at the Nov. 14 meeting.

After being reassured that there would be someone there to oversee the collection, the Land Trust members present unanimously gave their permission to go ahead.

For those who would like to participate, compostable food scraps include fruit and vegetable peelings and cores, coffee grounds and filters, and egg shells.

Meat, bread, and dairy products should not be put in the compost as they can attract rats.

The Solviken is jointly owned by the Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and the Block Island Conservancy.