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Everything you need to know about composting in Pittsburgh

The Steel City is making more efforts to grow toward sustainability

by Abbie Synan
June 9, 2021

Some Pittsburgh residents have become increasingly conscious of our environmental footprints. With the city participating in urban sustainability initiatives like the “P4” initiative, it’s clear that the former Steel City is making strides towards more sustainable living. One easy first step toward greener lifestyle habits is composting household waste.

Want to learn more about composting or can’t find that perfect place to dump your compostable trash? Fear not, there are plenty of options for the beginner or seasoned pro when it comes to sustainable waste habits.

Get Educated: Composting classes in Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania Resources Council is a grassroots environmental organization that works toward education, recycling and waste management across the state. The nonprofit group offers a webinar that teaches Pennsylvanians how to backyard compost themselves, and attendants receive a free compost bin to help get started.

If you’re searching for tips to create your own compost, Grow Pittsburgh has a quick guide to the first steps on backyard composting for beginners. This local nonprofit organization is a resource for Pittsburgh gardeners.

Find A friend or neighbor to share compostable waste

You can find a buddy to swap your compostable trash. Share Waste is an online platform that can connect for free people who want to take their compostable waste and donate it to a person with a garden, compost soil pile, or animals like chickens. It matches waste givers with trash takers over multiple cities. So, you don’t have to be a Pittsburgh native for this program to work for you.

Sustainable Subscriptions: Composting services in Pittsburgh

If you’re looking for a city program where you can keep your food scraps from landfills, Worm Return is a company providing composting services for the city of Pittsburgh. Worm return is a monthly service where you can have your organic materials picked up and turned into nutrient-rich soil. In addition to the composting service, this female-owned business offers educational consultations where individuals or businesses can learn more about composting or vermicomposting.

Shadyside Worms is another great annelid initiative option for a residential composting program. On a weekly basis, this organization will come by and collect waste from your home kitchen, making composting a breeze. The Compost People is another subscription service that also does all the dirty work for you. They have a weekly pick-up where you can feel good about what you throw away. Currently, they only serve Mt. Lebanon, Upper St Clair and Mt. Washington neighborhoods, but with more areas coming soon.

 Compost Confusion: Can I compost that? 

Compostable packaging or “bioplastics” may not necessarily break down efficiently in a landfill, so do you recycle them, throw them away or try to find a way to compost them? Home composters can add compostable packaging to their fruit or vegetable scraps, grass clippings or coffee grounds. Check with your compost company to see if they can accept these types of items. If a facility doesn’t take compostable containers, try to reuse them if possible and — as a last resort — they can be thrown in the trash. While it isn’t the ideal option, over a long period of time, they will eventually break down. By working with subscription services or taking a composting course, you’ll have a better idea about what to do with these tricky items.

Of course, the best way to be truly eco-friendly with waste is to create less trash. Waste reduction and reusing items in addition to composting can be the most effective way to decrease our carbon footprint.

More recycling resources in Pittsburgh

📌 Pittsburgh Buy Nothing Groups: Use the Buy Nothing network to “gift” your extra stuff to your neighbors.

📌 Where to donate your extra stuff in Pittsburgh aside from Goodwill: A look at all of the other places and organizations where you can donate stuff – clothing, electronics, building materials and more

📌 Recycle This Pittsburgh: A detailed website that offers guidance on what you can and cannot recycle in Pittsburgh

Abbie Synan is a freelance writer who focuses on sustainability initiatives within the tourism industry. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Synan has been traveling full time since 2013, hopping the globe and visiting over 90 countries while exploring ways to be a more mindful global citizen. She is the sustainable travel expert for Wanderful, an international travel community as well as the content co-lead for Impact Travel Alliance, a global organization educating and inspiring travelers. You can find her sharing stories on her blog, Speck on the Globe or her capturing wanderlust images on Instagram.

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