Here’s How to Find the Best Compost Service in Your Area

updated Apr 27, 2020
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woman putting apple peels in compost bin
Credit: Anchiy/Getty Images

You may have noticed that we’ve been talking a lot about composting lately (or, more accurately, not composting). See, we firmly believe that the best way for the vast majority of people to compost is to have someone else do it for them. Most of us don’t need or want to be doing the physical work of actually turning leftover food into soil and organic compost. Plus, lots of us don’t even have a garden or a way to actually use that compost. But, still, everyone should save their scraps (we have three really good reasons to convince you). Save your scraps and then give them away to someone who can use them. Simple as that.

By doing it this way, you’ll gain all the benefits of composting — become a more aware cook as you learn to separate your scraps, reduce your landfill footprint, and contribute to the cycle of growing food — but you don’t have to do the dirtiest work.

Saving your scraps is easy (we even have a list of things you can compost), and so is finding the best vessel for them. That means all that’s left is finding someone who will take your compost contributions — and that’s where we come in.

Here are the four best places to try in order to coordinate a compost pick-up or drop-off.

Credit: Laura Hoerner

1. Your Municipal Government

A quick Google search will reveal your city or town’s government office contact. Give them a ring and ask to speak to the waste removal department. Once connected, explain that you’re an in-home composter, and ask if the city offers compost pick-up. Not all cities or towns do, so be prepared for a potential no or even a stifled chuckle on the other line. If your town does provide compost pick-up — usually along with trash and recycling pick-up — they’ll talk you everything you need to know, including protocol and requirements for safe trash removal. 

2. Your Local Trash Removal Service

Not all municipal governments handle trash removal. In that instance, you likely hire an independent company to pick up your trash and recycling. If you live in an apartment or condo, your building’s landlord or super will have the contact information for your provider. Although composting is picking up steam, it’s not usually popular enough to be offered as part of a basic service. Give your removal service a call and ask if you can add a compost pick-up option. Some companies now offer compost pick-up, even providing the receptacle, for a small additional fee.

3. Your Local Farmers Market

If plans one and two are both a bust, rest assured that all is not lost. Do you have a local farmers market? The bigger your market, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to find someone who does compost drop-off. And more often than not, you can drop off those scraps without paying any sort of fee.

4. A Friendly Farmer

If no one at your farmers market takes compost scraps, see if another local farm does. Or maybe ask the folks who run a CSA (community supported agriculture). Or ask your neighbor who loves to grow tomatoes in the summer. Keep in mind that, when you’re donating compost to a farm or individual gardener, you want to create as little work as possible for them. Ask how they’d like the compost to be delivered, with what frequency, and if they have any specific dos and don’ts.

More on Composting

Do you compost already? What do you do with your scraps?