Hello World! I am back from vacation – a vacation so real and so deep that it escaped the clutches of internet connectivity. This vacation took place on Cape Cod, a 65-mile sand bar in Massachusetts colonized since 1620 with mini-golf courses, clam shacks, and cute bookstores of different vintages. I have a lot to write about my excursion out of the West Coast bubble where I’ve been living, but let’s start with compost.
Why Compost on Cape Cod?
Cape Cod is in dire need of composting services. The vacation house we rented had 3 recycling bins and special trash bags that form part of Brewster, MA’s Pay-As-You-Throw garbage program. So far so good! The town is going green by working to reduce waste, ship less trash off the quasi-island, and cut costs for the municipality. But are they supporting their citizens enough in dealing with food scraps? The instructions said we should not include food scraps in the trash, and rather compost them at home. Except that our vacation home wasn’t equipped with a compost system, and it seemed there were few resources to help the owners set one up.
So I resorted to digging little holes around the property and burying our compostable food waste. I’m still not sure whether or not this was a good idea. I excluded all meats, oils and cooked foods so as not to attract pests, so I think it should be fine. But who knows. In the process of trying to dig holes, I learned that Cape Cod really does seem to be just a huge sand bar. It was quite difficult to dig the land! It just seemed like a tangle of tree roots with densely compacted sand underneath. Just the kind of land that desperately needs more organic matter — or in other words — compost.
Cape Cod’s Existing Composters
- Mary Ryther, who comes from a family of Woods Hole scientists, has been running her Compost With Me business from West Falmouth for several years. They pick up bins of food scraps from homes and businesses and leaves finish compost in exchange. Similar bike-powered small businesses exist in Boston, Austin, Philadelphia, Portland, ME, and I’m sure other places that don’t have municipal composting.
- The town of Mashpee has put Compost With Me bins at its waste transfer station to allow residents to take part for free.
- Watts Family Farms offers food waste hauling services for schools, businesses and other commercial operations. They have been collecting food waste from Stop and Shop grocery stores for years. They turn it into compost, which they then sell in bulk and now by the bag.
- Since 2014, all large businesses that produce substantial food waste have been required to divert it from garbage collection by MA law. Apparently some like the Chatham Bars Inn do their own composting.