You will probably get better answers to your questions from others here in time,
I for one though wonder if you are interested in rescuing scraps from the dump
for humanitarian reasons or do you believe this is the best form of compost?
I wont venture that I know personally but inquire because it seems there are
better ways to get compost material.
I guess it depends on where you live, I understand in some areas the tree
disposal people can hold there mulch for ransom. Other areas are usually more
than glad to save themselves a trip to the landfill/dump where they pay to
I am a fan a youtuber called "OneYardRevolution", if you search these forums
you'll see I have been an advocate for him often. "OneYardRevolution Mentioned in Permie Forums"
The Youtuber has multiple posts on his channel at youtube on Compost Creation
I am going to implant some of his videos on his "Free Compost Materials" here:
I will add if you still want to get fresh produce scraps from somewhere, I would inquire with grocery stores. Many in the eastern
USA are utilizing green garbage cans from business like Waste Management. These probably still end up in the landfill but maybe
the stores catch a break if the wet/green garbage is separated from the rest. The stores probably pay so much per week based
on the number of containers whether full or empty. Also you can inquire with businesses that have to
pay for removal of raw compost materials such as the horse manure, tree mulch, landscapers, homeowners that bag their grass
Hope this helps in some way.
Both are legitimate concerns.
You have to think like a businessman and then work with them that way. If they're going to lose money by paying employees to sort stuff, it usually won't fly. A lot of businesses, particularly restaurants, are running on very slim profit margins.
That said, if you can figure out ways to make it easy on them plus give them some "green" cred, it might work. In the past I've just gone dumpster diving and saved big boxes of discarded produce from behind grocery stores. Having a non-profit animal rescue operation for a friend also helps. They get discarded produce and the stuff that's too far gone can feed your piles.
I hear some opinions that that there really is nothing but sunlight that can be sure to break these down--even mushrooms may simply ignore them...and that if you use sunlight then of course you lose ALL the microbial life...
So, here's a brainstorm idea, what if I compost everything, then spread it out in the sun so thinly that it's losing all its microbial life and its pesticides...
Yes, that is a loss, but the ship has already sailed. And it's still got some carbon and nitrogen to feed the microbial life that's in the soil underneath.
It's not a perfect solution, but it at least a) makes use of the kitchen scraps and b) doesn't risk herbicidal maniacs running amok in the garden. It seems the least bad solution in the given circumstance.
Now, maybe I'm confusing different issues, since the talk of the persistent herbicides usually is in refernce to hay and alfalfa and so on, but the fact is that those things could be used near the plant I and my housemates have been getting food from...I just can't monitor all of that or track it down or research all of that...
Another, more exotic, avenue that I haven't personally pursued is the zoo. Ours has a sign that says you can inquire and schedule a pick up of a pick up truck full of various animal manures and bedding for $10.
When we had a back yard pig some years ago we went to a couple grocery stores and they let us drop off a tote that they would fill with discarded produce for us. And I am currently getting twice monthly deliveries of the odds and ends from a local asian buffet dropped off, but that fella advertised on craigslist. Also coffee shops are often happy to let you take their grounds and they usually already have containers full of grounds and filters.
If you live in a residential area with lots of deciduous trees you can probably go around and pick up folks yard waste bags by the curb without pissing too many people off. An urban farm I used to volunteer at had wrangled a number of neighbors to collect these in bulk in the fall and they would have big old trailers full of leaf being dropped off in september and october that they used to deep mulch all the rows in prep for winter.
Lastly, caltrans (the road maintenance folks out here) do regular roadside clearing and if it's anything woody they chip it and leave it in giant piles at a few different large pullouts around the area. I have collected dozens of truckloads of this stuff as I attempt to eliminate the lawn from the swampier parts of my yard and also when I was building my sorta hugels.
If you keep an eye out in your day to day for organic waste you will find ones in your area, then you just need to be brave enough to be that weirdo who goes around asking for someone elses trash.
Next you have to make it easy for them to do, so it takes no more time from any employee than their current method of disposal, that might mean you have to provide containers and regular, scheduled pickups of the disposed of materials.
Next you have to show that their doing this has good benefits for them, time wise, money wise and community advertising wise, the more benefits they can receive the better your chances of success.
If you want to use letters then you have to have it laid out like a business proposal showing every step and benefit they can expect to have to do and what you are going to do, it will also be good to have a contractual agreement.
As you can see, it is a lot of work to get businesses to cooperate. The reasons most don't is because of the legalities that lead to liability, no one is going to set their business up for a lawsuit.
Stables are a similar story, but usually a lot easier to get on board with you disposing of waste materials for them. However, the same rules will apply when it comes to releasing them from any liability issues that could arise.
The issues of herbicide and pesticide residues will be up to you, mycelium will go a long way at breaking down any such toxins as long as you also have the correct bacteria to work in unison with the fungi.
1. How it's collected. They assume it is going to be messy, or take up too much space.
2. Health department regulations. Coffee grounds grow mold very quickly and they worry about potential liability.
I've collected from 3 different places now and found that the following is most effective:
Introduce yourself, and explain you are collecting used coffee grounds for composting. State that you will provide a clean container (with lid) for them to dump the grounds in, and you will come in every second or third day to pick them up, and replace the container with a clean empty one.
This prevents mold from developing, and you can provide a container that is correctly sized to their needs.
Starbucks already has a corporate policy and the outlet I collected from would refill the empty blister packs the beans are shipped in, and freeze them. I collected them every second day and dealt with the plastic.
The key with any collection is that you have to be regular and you have to be reliable. Leave them your number so they can text you for pickup if they are getting full early.
The current coffee shop I have fills a 5 gallon pail every second day. The one before filled a 2.5 gallon pail every second day. I find these pails work best because they have a lid and a handle, are easy to clean, and they are cheap.
Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:We have a lot of kitchen scraps, and can't really monitor them for persistent herbicide content that might be involved somehow (perhaps second-hand).
Thanks for bumping up this useful old thread, Joshua! I've tried to read up on persistent herbicides and here's what I understand:
Most herbicides, including roundup, actually do degrade in the composting process and time, and your attitude above would probably be effective, though not allowed in certified US organic production.
It is the "aminopyralid" category of herbicides that has become a terrible problem for people making compost involving hay, straw, or manure from animals that ate hay or straw. Aminopyralids only kill the broadleaf plants, and leaf the grass family alone, so none of your kitchen scraps can have them in, except corn and its cobs and husks, and wheat and other cereal grains.
stephen lowe wrote:...there are a number of places that board horses and will gladly load up whatever container you bring with composted/ing manure and bedding. ... You have the issue of pesticides and medicines of course but I tend to think that you gotta make the best with what you got. Afterall, maybe it will be in my compost pile or mulch that some fungi will adapt to finally break down some persistent environmental toxin!
Another, more exotic, avenue that I haven't personally pursued is the zoo...
This is where the aminopyralid risk becomes serious. People raising horses or zoo animals, because they are not knowingly raising food, may use herbicides, or buy the cheapest available straw and hay, even if they are the kind of person who prefers to eat or grow organic food themselves. They might not ask if the straw and hay that they buy and feed to these animals is organic, since the animals are not food producing. But the crazy, terrifying thing about aminopyralids is that, if they are sprayed on say, a grass hayfield, or grain before harvesting, the (grass) hay, straw and grain may still contain it, and it passes right through the digestive system intact, and through composting intact. A year or two later when applied to soil, the broadleafed plants that are planted there will die.
Sounds harsh, but just google it up -- read it and weep. There are some tragic stories out there! Most of our favorite vegetables are vulnerable.
The long-term effects of this ... ! Acreage used for hayfields or cereal grains today may be unfit for any other kind of plant for years! Forget crop rotation. Forget 3-year remediation to make land organic.... People happily collecting free waste and making lovely looking compost may unwittingly poison their soil so that it's only fit for grass, cereal, and bamboo. The mind boggles ...
Oops, sorry for ranting.