The Garbage to Garden curbside composting service first proposed expanding to Sanford back in 2021, and is finally ready to kick off. Starting the first week of April, residents who choose to participate will receive a 5-gallon bucket to fill with food scraps and other compostable materials. Garbage to Garden will pick up the filled bucket at the curb each week, and leave a clean bucket in its place. Additionally, participants are able to receive a bag of compost each week, if requested, so that they can enjoy the nutrient-rich product they help to create – all for $19/month. The first 1,000 Sanford and Springvale residents will be able to get the first month of service for free. Residents are now able to pre-enroll for curbside service at garbagetogarden.org.
The Portland-based nonprofit is also expanding to Gorham and Windham, for a total of 13 Maine cities/towns (and 5 additional cities in Massachusetts). Interest for this service and food waste recycling options continues to grow – both at the household level, and at the municipal level. The expansion to Sanford/Springvale is a direct result of efforts on the part of the City of Sanford to secure grant funding to bring curbside and a drop off to their community. The free month trial and free curbside bucket to the first 1,000 households to sign up is being paid for through the grant.
The benefits of composting your food waste go beyond helping the environment. It also means you will need to use fewer orange PAYT bags for your household trash, and your trash bags will be lighter and odor-free. You’ll also be supporting farms in Maine and Massachusetts that do the composting.
So what can you compost with Garbage to Garden? Their slogan is, if it grows, it goes! They accept all food waste – even meat, cheese and bones! But how? The composting experts at GTG’s local partner farms incorporate your food waste into massive piles called “windrows.” These piles reach temperatures of over 130° because of the energy produced by heat-loving bacteria called “thermophiles,” so nature does the cooking herself. Compost microorganisms are powerful enough to break down bones, weed seeds, pathogens, and even some toxic chemicals.
In addition to food waste, you can add paper napkins and paper towels to your bucket (no wax paper or parchment paper though), along with leaves, brush (thinner than a pencil), and grass clippings that have not been treated with pesticides. They will also accept cooking oil, fat and grease that is in a separate container with a lid – it will be recycled into fuel and soap!
As a means to keep the program accessible and encourage community engagement, Garbage to Garden has an extensive volunteer program that enables participants to earn free service. Over 3,000 Maine curbside composters have opted in to receive the monthly volunteer newsletter highlighting opportunities with Garbage to Garden and the local nonprofits and organizations included there. Additionally, in partnership with each city, Garbage to Garden intends to install a drop-off site as a free option available to all residents in that community.
Learn more about Garbage to Garden and sign up now at https://garbagetogarden.org/index.php.