Dishing dirt, the cool way


Don’t let the cold weather get in the way of your home composting operations, say the experts at R.I. Resource Recovery.

“There are plenty of days when the temperature rises enough to cause some breakdown in the bin,” said Krystal Noiseux, recycling program manager. “Simply add food scraps and cover with leaves. And don’t bother turning until warmer temperatures arrive in early spring. Then you can begin turning weekly once again.”

Oxygen helps the microorganisms that feast on the contents thrive, but in the winter, keeping the center of the pile unturned and warm is beneficial. Although cold temperatures delay decomposition, it still occurs.

Keeping leaves handy helps, too.

“In the autumn, many people load up the compost pile with carbon-rich leaves, which are plentiful,” said Noiseux. “But it’s best to also keep leaves in covered barrels next to your compost bin year-round. When you add food scraps, cover them with a generous scoop of leaves too.”

The ideal compost pile contains a three-to-one ratio of carbon-rich materials, like leaves, to nitrogen-rich materials, like food scraps and grass clippings.

Cutting up food scraps into smaller pieces is also helpful. “The microbes have more access to the food, and therefore break it down much faster,” said Noiseux. “It’s a best practice all year long, but is especially helpful in the winter months.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps account for the highest percent of what’s sent to landfills nationwide. R.I. Resource Recovery encourages composting because the diversion of organic material from the trash preserves space in the Central Landfill for non-organic matter. Landfill engineers estimate that the landfill has about 25 years of life left at the present filling rate of 750,000 tons per year.

It’s even possible to start a compost pile in mid-winter, said Noiseux. RIRR sells compost bins at its Johnston office for $40 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. If you like the RIRR Facebook page, you can print a coupon redeemable for one $25 bin.

If you have questions about composting, visit or call 942-1430, ext. 109.


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