Community Compost

The mission of the Community Compost Program is to strengthen community connections and give back to the planet by increasing the number of local composting programs across the country. Composting on a community scale serves a unique and important role in the sustainable food movement. An environmental entrepreneur could locate a community compost site anywhere from their backyard to a university, community garden, or local farm. By keeping the process local while engaging the community through participation and education, community compost programs yield many benefits; improving local self-reliance and food sovereignty.

A Complete Guide on Starting and Running a Community Compost Program

What is Compost?

Compost is a verb: it is the process of decomposing organic matter.

Compost is a noun: the finished product of decomposed materials.

Food scraps become compost or are composted.

Food Waste Reduction Tips

Although composting is great, it is still worthwhile to reduce food waste. The Environmental Protection Agency has created a tip sheet on how to do just that.

How to Compost

Humanure Composting Information

List of Compostable Items

Why Community Compost?

Composting at the community scale allows individuals to engage with each other and learn from the process.

The healthy soil that is created by a community compost hub stays in the community and is used locally to enrich the soil in the neighborhood in which it was created.

Interested in starting your own community compost program? Click here for a comprehensive guide on all-things community compost.

Apply for support to start a Community Compost Program.

Guiding Principles of Community Composting

(According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

  1. Resources recovered: Waste is reduced; food scraps and other organic materials are diverted from disposal and composted.
  2. Locally based and closed loop: Organic materials are a community asset and are generated and recycled into compost within the same neighborhood or community.
  3. Organic materials returned to soils: Compost is used to enhance local soils, support local food production, and conserve natural ecology by improving soil structure and maintaining nutrients, carbon, and soil microorganisms.
  4. Community-scaled and diverse: Composting infrastructure is diverse, distributed, and sustainable; systems are scaled to meet the needs of a self-defined community.
  5. Community engaged, empowered, and educated: Compost programming engages and educates the community in food systems thinking, resource stewardship, or community sustainability while providing solutions that empower individuals, businesses, and institutions to capture organic waste and retain it as a community resource.
  6. Community supported: Aligns with community goals (such as healthy soils and healthy people) and is supported by the community it serves. The reverse is true, too; a community composting program supports community social, economic, and environmental well-being.

Resources for People Starting Their Own Compost Program

Useful Websites

US Composting Council

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Guide from Institute for Local Self-Reliance

This is designed for people who are trying to create a compost program. If you need a complete outline of the composting process, this is the guide for you! This details the entire process from the benefits of composting to creating a financial plan to support your compost program. Even if you are experienced with composting, this is a good resource for ideas on how to get others involved in making your mission a success.

Databases of Compost Systems around the United States

Make Soil

This is an excellent resource where you can add your compost site and find other soil sites near you. Based on your location, you can see other composting operations in your area, see what materials they accept, and can collaborate with other soil-makers. There is also a soil-making forum where you can ask questions to other users and get tips on how to up your dirt-making game.

Share Waste

Similar to Make Soil, this is an excellent resource to find other composting operations in your area. You can register as a compost collection site, specify what you accept, and start to draw in community members to drop off their food scraps!

Compost Coalition

This is a materials map for providing resources to your community compost! Need materials? Look at the greens, browns, or mixed maps. Connect with local coffee shops to rescue coffee grounds, sawmills for sawdust, landscapers for leaves…the list goes on! Have materials? Check out the drop-off locations.

Resources for Successful Composting

Resources for Successful Composting

Videos

Books

Worms Eat My Garbage, Compost City, Composting For a New Generation, Let It Rot!, Compost Stew

The Soil and Water Connection*, The Compost and Climate Connection* *To buy both books from the US Composting Council for a reduced price, click here

Articles


The following comes from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (www.ilsr.org), a national nonprofit organization working to strengthen local economies, and redirect waste into local recycling, composting, and reuse industries. This is a great breakdown of how organized and supported composting can make positive impacts for both people, the planet, and all life forms (we love you, micro-organisms!).