Post tagged with


Composting In The East Village

Composting in the East VillageSamantha Ku Carey Pulverman, the “worm lady” of the Lower East Side Ecology Center, shows off her red wigglers. The worms are an essential part of composting process.

Bugs and insects are an apartment dweller’s nightmare. But some East Village residents are embracing a creepy crawler as an ally in urban composting: the red wiggler worm, a.k.a. Eisenia foetida. With the right mix of worms, newspaper and food waste, combined with about four months’ worth of patience, you can end up with several pounds of the moist, sticky brown compost known to green thumbs as “steroids for plants.”

In an effort to be more “green,” Richard Carlsen, 53, a public school teacher, bought a worm bin 18 months ago to use in his East Ninth Street apartment. “I thought composting was out for me not having a yard, but after researching vermicomposting, I was like, ‘Oh, let me give it a try,’ and it’s worked out great,” said Mr. Carlsen.

He uses the rich fertilizer excreted by the worms on his houseplants, and he gets rid of food leftovers. ”I’m proud of my worms,” he said. “It’s amazing, you stick something in there, and in a week it’s gone.”

As a result of keeping the worm bin in his living room, Mr. Carlsen has put up with some extra insects like mites, fruit flies and gnats. He uses frequent vacuuming and fly traps to control the pest population.

For recyclers who can’t abide by worms in their homes, outdoor composting is even more passive. You can visit one of four official demonstration sites at community gardens in the East Village (see map below) to dump select food scraps into bins filled with various plant clippings.

Once every few weeks, someone in the garden will give it a good toss for aeration. In several months, it will become the nutrient-rich compost and potting soil that make avid gardeners shell out the big bucks.

There are other places to compost, including The Lower East Side Ecology Center, which has a community compost drop-off in the northeast corner of the Union Square Greenmarket for local residents.

Robert Appleton, a teacher on sabbatical who lives in the East Village, brings his compost to the Union Square Greenmarket and the 4th Street Food Co-op when he does his weekly grocery shopping.

“I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, so anything left over I just bring here in a plastic bag, usually twice a week,” said Mr. Appleton. “My apartment’s too small for me to do my own composting.”

Each week, the large black garbage bins at the compost drop-off site are filled with the rotting, moldy, smelly piles of New Yorkers’ apple cores, eggshells, and coffee grounds. The Ecology Center, in turn, uses the donated scraps to create compost and potting soil, which sells for $7 per 5 pound bag three months later at the same stand in Union Square.

Learning More About Composting

The Department of Sanitation’s NYC Compost Project also operates demonstration sites at the following community gardens:

  • La Plaza Cultural, East Ninth Street and Avenue C
  • Dias y Flores Garden, East 13th Street between Avenues A and B
  • El Sol Brillante Garden, East 12th Street between Avenues A and B
  • Earth School Garden, East 6th Street and Avenue B

View NYC Compost Project Demonstration Sites in a larger map

As Snow Fades, Trash Concerns Mount

East Village post-storm trashSuzanne Rozdeba With city sanitation trucks busy plowing snow-covered streets, piles of trash have continued to accumulate in the East Village. Limited trash pickups are scheduled to resume today.
East Village post-storm trash

The snow is melting away, but the piles of trash in the East Village keep getting bigger.

“It’s disgusting,” Yolanda Gonzalez, 26, an East Village resident, told The Local on Jan. 3. Staring at a mountain of over 25 bags of trash on Avenue A, she said, “I’m worried about the rats, and about diseases from this garbage. I don’t know why they’re not picking it up. It’s been too long.”

According to the Department of Sanitation, limited pickup resumed today. But as of this morning, residents and businesses that normally have Monday garbage pickups have yet to see the trash disappear.

On Monday morning, Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty held a press conference at Foley Square and told reporters that 1,100 trucks would be picking up trash throughout the city on Monday. He estimated that about 50,000 tons of trash had accumulated since the storm.

“We’re not going to get it all today,” he said, adding that by the end of the day: “I think there’ll be less garbage.”

The pickups cannot come quickly enough for some East Villagers.

“The trash is still out there. Now there are lots of bags, and furniture, and Christmas trees,” said Hugo Ascazubi, 21, an employee at 442 Quality Cleaners on East Ninth Street. Outside the business, there were more than 15 bags of garbage piled up. “People do make comments that it’s gross. It smells. Do you know why they haven’t come to pick it up yet? They haven’t told us anything. I’ll be relieved when it’s gone.”

At East Village Gourmet Deli on Avenue A, 25 bags of garbage created a mini-mountain outside the business. “It’s been a week, and nobody has picked up anything,” said Ali, an employee there. “We have our own garbage picked up privately, but there is still all this other trash. I saw the garbage trucks plowing this morning, but not picking up garbage. They are supposed to come today to pick it up, but nothing yet.”

But some East Villagers were unruffled about the pileups. “I’m not concerned. I’ve seen it before,” said Angel Shea, 54, who’s lived in the East Village for 30 years.

And in at least one instance, the trash piles have been credited with doing some good elsewhere in the city, according to authorities. Vangelis Kapatos, 26, a resident of Hell’s Kitchen, was saved by a huge pile of garbage bags after leaping from his apartment window on the ninth floor of a building on West 45th Street Sunday.

Although regular trash pickups are not expected to resume immediately in the East Village, some hopeful locals have continued to stack bags at the curb.

“We put out our garbage today because it’s supposed to be picked up. If they don’t come today, I’m not worried,” said Duane Zaloudek, 80, who’s lived in the East Village since 1983. “The rats are here, anyway. I’m happy they plowed the streets, and I know there aren’t enough people in the sanitation department to do it all. This was a big snowstorm.”

Colin Moynihan contributed information to this report.

Share your stories about trash collection at The City Room blog at The Times.