Organic Recycling Coming To SEQ, But Can We Stand It?

A Personal Perspective
BY MARCIA MOXAM COMRIE

It is an idea whose time has come, but can we live with the stench? That is the question many in Southeast Queens are pondering as organic recycling makes its way across the city.

Those who live in communities where organic recycling is already taking place have complained that the smell is overwhelming. When composted, vegetable and fruit peelings make for a great garden fertilizer, which is what the city plans to do with this particular recycling program.

Throw in meat scraps and other fleshly fragments and you have the makings of a very smelly yard, according to some folks who live in areas where this type of recycling is already in effect.

Starting in May, this form of recycling is coming to the Community Board 13 areas of Southeast Queens, and will eventually spread to Community Board 12.

Those of us who have long hated throwing out the great fruit and vegetable peels—and may even have tried to compost it for our garden—see this as a great opportunity.

Composting at home may not have worked for us, but having the Department of Sanitation collect the scraps, compost it and make it available for our use at home has been very helpful. But how reliable will the pick-ups be to prevent flies and stench in our communities?

Our regular garbage sometimes sits at the curb for days awaiting pickup. The trucks just don’t come sometimes and not always due to bad weather or a holiday. Sometimes, they just don’t come and there’s nary a word of explanation.

However, the city’s ultimate goal in recycling food garbage is not due to some altruistic instinct toward homeowners. That is just an extra benefit. The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of garbage thrown into our landfills.

Our gardens would thrive from the compost being made available by the city. But will it be worth the smell of keeping rotting refuse in our yards and curbs? Only time will tell. We are aware that our 20th century garbage disposal methods will no longer work as we move along into the 21st century.

Recycling kitchen scraps may be just the thing to lessen the piles and stench in the landfills. It is incumbent upon each of us to do our part to make the planet a cleaner, safer place for our children, grandchildren and all future generations of our families.

Similar to how they did during the early days of paper, plastic and tin recycling, the city promises to provide homeowners with appropriate containers for this new addition to our recycling needs. They will ostensibly be airtight to mitigate the smell and keep hungry critters from opening the bins.

It is up to us to keep our city healthy in every way. This is an idea whose time has come, so we should keep an open mind about this one and see how it goes.

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