• Culture

Composting: What, How, and Why Not?


Radish Lab recently started composting because we want to minimize the waste we produce that goes in landfills, but also because our in-office composting setup brings us one step closer to becoming a certified B Corporation. We’re inspired by how easy composting is, and it has endless benefits! There’s two simple steps to take:

  1. Collect your food scraps after each meal by storing them in a composting container on your counter, in the freezer or outside on a balcony or on your roof. Remember to get biodegradable bags.
  2. Bring the composting to one of the many NYC drop off locations.

For a DIY container, you could use a large yogurt container or other plastic container with a lid, or even milk cartons. To reduce odors, it’s a good idea to store it in the freezer or refrigerator, especially this time of year. Another tip is to keep a layer of newspaper at the bottom of the container to soak up the excess liquid.

The Facts

In NYC, food comprises about a third of the waste stream. Organic materials, which include yard trimmings, food scraps, wood waste, paper and paperboard products, are the largest component of our trash and generate around two thirds of the waste stream country-wide. In addition to this, over 97% of generated food waste in the US ends up in landfills! When food scraps are thrown into the garbage and end up in landfills, it produces methane which is a lot more harmful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

When food scraps and other organic waste are composted, they become a valuable product which improve the growing conditions of street trees, gardens and more, by adding nutritious soil. Composting not only improves plant growth, it also isolates carbon, conserves water, reduces reliance on chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and prevents erosion.

How We Do It

Radish Lab is located a block away from Sure We Can, a nonprofit recycling center, community space, and sustainability hub in Brooklyn where canners, students and neighbors come together through recycling, composting, gardening, art, and other initiatives. From the work that Sure We Can does, as much as 50 tons of organic waste are transformed into compost instead of ending up in landfills. They pick up our recycling every week and let us drop off our compost at their location at 219 Mckibbin Street. If you’re not right off the Morgan L like us, there’s plenty of other drop off locations. The many Greenmarkets in the city will take your compost free of charge and this long list of official NYC drop off spots makes it even easier to reduce your waste and contribute to enriching the environment, instead of damaging it.

What to compost:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds, filters, and paper tea bags
  • Bread and grains
  • Egg shells
  • Nutshells
  • Corncobs
  • Food-soiled paper towels and napkins
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Sawdust and wood shavings from untreated wood
  • Stale beans, flour, and spices
  • Cut or dried flowers
  • Houseplants and potting soil
  • Feathers

What not to compost:

  • Meat or fish scraps
  • Cheese or dairy products
  • Fats, grease, oil, or oily foods
  • Cat or dog feces
  • Kitty litter
  • Colored or glossy paper
  • Sawdust made from pressure-treated plywood or lumber
  • Coal or charcoal ashes
  • Non-compostable materials like plastic, metals, or glass (recycle it!)
  • Diseased or insect-infested houseplants and soil
  • Biodegradable or compostable plastics

Our in-office composting system has inspired many of the Radish team members to start composting in their own homes! Every little bit helps, and we think it’s amazing how such a small life-change can create such a large impact.