Do you know how easy it is to join the composting movement here in Reno? You don’t need to build a compost pile in your backyard or have a green thumb. All you need to do is collect food scraps and put your collection bucket out for pick up once a week!
There are many benefits to signing up for a weekly collection service. In our household, we use Down To Earth Composting, a small business leading the way to make Reno more sustainable.
Garrett Menghini is the owner of Down to Earth Composting, a company committed to diverting residential food waste from landfills. His company is educating our community about composting and benefits to our soil and environment.
I had the opportunity to chat with Garrett and learn more about the composting movement in Reno. I am including some insights you can share with your family!
Down To Earth Composting customers can choose a weekly collection ($22 per month) or they can drop-off their 4-gallon bucket ($4 per week) at the year-round Riverside Farmers Market. Note that during the Quarantine, the Market is closed until May or later pending the Governor’s approval.
In response to this Market closure, Down to Earth is hosting “pop up drop-off” locations May 9th and May 23rd (2020) for customers who are not on a weekly collection service. Follow the Instagram page or Facebook page for updates!
Down to Earth Composting is also expanding curbside pick up beyond Central and South Reno for customers.
The expansion is to all of Reno. If you live outside of the service area, simply email to see if you qualify for this expanded curbside service.
Why You Should Divert Food Waste
To turn food scraps into high-quality soil, you need specialized knowledge and lots of space to build a compost pile.
You need access to horse manure, shredded leaves, wood chips, and water to mix with your organic waste. Building and maintaining the pile is necessary for 9-12 months. You need to understand science and be experienced with soil and gardening.
If you’re like me, you want to leave composting to the experts and simply sign up for a collection service that is inexpensive and easy!
You collect household coffee grounds/filters, common food scraps (including veggies, fruits, bread, nuts, eggshells), soiled napkins and paper towels, shredded paper, leaves, grass, and torn up egg cartons.
Note that dairy, meat, and oils are not accepted. The important things to keep out of the bucket are rubber bands, twist ties, and produce stickers. See the full list here of what can and cannot go in your bucket.
What is Compost and Why is it Important?
In the most simple terms, compost is organic matter that is made up of discarded food scraps and unwanted yard waste mixed with other organic materials that decompose to form high quality finished soil for planting.
These valuable resources (kitchen and yard waste) should ideally be kept out of the landfill. If waste is sent to the landfill, air cannot get in as it decomposes.
It creates methane (a harmful greenhouse gas) which damages the earth’s atmosphere. If you consider that the average household produces more than 200 lbs.of kitchen waste every year, you can understand why doing your small part can be so impactful.
Compost = High Quality Finished Soil for Planting
If you do gardening, you can benefit from receiving quality soil 2x a year in exchange for your monthly subscription of $22. Down to Earth Composting gives you finished compost in early April and again in late September.
Finished compost is dark, crumbly topsoil that has a pleasant earthy odor. (It is the result of 9-12 months of supervised decomposition in the air and elements.)
Your garden will love this soil because it is high quality and nutrient-rich; it will improve your existing soil, maintain moisture levels, keep the pH balance correct, and help fight plant disease.
If you want to learn more, the EPA has a great resource page for the average person, it explains what compost is and the many benefits of it.
Waste generation is high: almost double the national average. This is why I care.
I’ve found that there are a lot of food scraps our family discards because we cook so much and we are able to fill a 4-gallon bucket easily each week!
Down to Earth Composting diverted 106,100 lbs. of food waste from the landfill in 2019. The truth is that about 50% of what our community sends to the landfill is compostable.
To me, it makes sense to divert what is organic and send it back into the local soil to benefit the growth of plants and food for our community.
Gardening in the High Desert
Edible Landscaping is a gardening service Down To Earth Composting will offer this year for their existing customers.
This means they will help you plant fruit trees, perennial and annual veggies, and flowers (that attract pollinators) in your yard. This is the best way to take advantage of receiving finished soil 2x a year and transforming your garden into an “edible” landscape!
If you’ve ever wondered about the first step in growing vegetables in our climate, experts recommend “starting seeds” indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost.
You can transplant them outdoors when the weather is warmer, and they will be healthy enough to survive. If you want to learn more, Moana Nursery has a great resource page!
Join the Composting Movement in Reno
After all, habits start early with your child. I’m teaching my toddler by sticking to habits. It is now a habit to separate food waste into a collection bucket for weekly pick up.
This is similar to our household’s commitment to reduce plastic by bringing our own bags to the grocery store. We also commit to wash and separate out whatever is recyclable for our curbside program.
In the words of Down to Earth Composting’s founder, Garrett, “Composting is one of the things that we can all start doing, right now, to help leave a healthier community, and ultimately planet, for our kids.”
Maureen Lowe is a Bay Area native that relocated to the high desert mountains of Southwest Reno with her family in 2017. Mama to her active pup and toddler boy, Maureen is a textile designer and graduate of CCA San Francisco. With a lifelong love of nature and the arts, Maureen has made it a mission to explore Reno’s scenic trails and cultural offerings to find kid and dog-friendly outings that work in all seasons.