February 10, 2012
Portland Kicks-off Composting Program in Time for Spring Gardening
Public Services asks residents to consider composting to save money and help the environment
PORTLAND, Maine - This month, the City of Portland Public Services Department kicked-off its fifth annual composting promotion by offering compost bins, wing diggers, kitchen waste pails, rain barrels and REOTEMP compost thermometer at discounted prices for purchase. Last year more than 600 compost bins, wing diggers, kitchen pails and rain barrels were sold through the program. In line with Portland's sustainability goals, the City endorses compost as an environmentally responsible alternative to fertilizing lawns and gardens and an efficient way to manage organic waste. Twenty-five percent of the average household's waste consists of yard trimmings and kitchen scraps, which can easily be composted. Home composting combined with recycling and yard waste programs can reduce household waste by up to eighty percent.
The 2012 home compost bin and how-to guide are available at a reduced cost of $50.00 (original price $100). The bin has a 10 year warranty, made of 100% recycled plastic and is large enough for a family of five. Kitchen Waste Pails, for kitchen food scraps, are available for $10.00 each and the wing digger compost turner can be purchased for a discounted price of $20.00. For the third year, people can also purchase a 55 gallon capacity Rain Barrel for $65.00 (visit online for more information http://publicworks.portlandmaine.gov/rainbarrel.pdf. New to the program this year, the City will offer the REOTEMP backyard compost thermometer used for monitoring interior temperatures from 0° to 200°F in a backyard compost bin. Orders will be taken in person or via mail at the Department of Public Services, 55 Portland Street, Portland ME 04101 until April 02, 2012. Order forms are available online at http://publicworks.portlandmaine.gov/compostform.pdf. Payment in the form of check or money order should be made payable to MRRA (Maine Resource Recovery Association) and must be made when placing your order. All orders will be available for pick-up on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at the Department of Public Services lower garage (82 Hanover Street) from 7:00 AM -3:00 PM.
"Our goal is to educate the public about the environmental and economic costs of managing organic waste," remarked Troy Moon, Environmental Programs and Open Space Manager for the Department of Public Services. "If we can get Portland residents to consider yardscaping practices and use compost as an alternative to chemical fertilizers for their lawns and gardens, we can remove toxins from our storm water and reduce waste management costs at the same time."
Last year, Portland residents delivered over 2,000 tons of yard waste to Riverside Recycling Center, which cost over $115,000 to manage. Composting yard waste and non-meat food scraps at home instead of disposing of them reduces waste management costs and provides homeowners with a valuable soil amendment. Sustainable lawn care practices such as yardscaping (which includes reduced mowing and aerating along with the use of compost) promote healthy lawns that are less dependent on chemicals, fertilizers and watering. This saves money and helps to protect the environment!
In addition to composting organics, residents are encouraged to "mow high," generating shorter grass clippings that compost better. It is estimated that the average American spends forty hours a year mowing their lawn, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and causing air pollution. In fact, a lawnmower pollutes as much in one hour as an automobile driving 350 miles.
The Maine Board of Pesticide Control reports that over 6.2 million pounds of yard care pesticides were brought into Maine in 2007. This number has increased seven-fold since 1995 and coincides with an equal explosion of yard care companies in Maine. The use of pesticides and fertilizers pose a health risk to Portland's water ways, because these products tend to be over-applied and easily wash off lawns when it rains. For example, excess nitrogen from fertilizers, can impair water quality by contributing to excessive algae growth in streams, rivers and Casco Bay.
For more information about yardscaping, visit the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District online http://www.cumberlandswcd.org/ or the Maine Board of Pesticide Control yardscaping page online http://www.yardscaping.org/
Contact the Department of Public Services at 874-8801 for more information about the composting program.
RAIN BARREL INFORMATION http://publicworks.portlandmaine.gov/rainbarrel.pdf