Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Takoma Park composting and the glacial process of social and structural change

Today's Post has an article about Takoma Park, Maryland (a small city of with about 17,000 residents, although the city includes not just Old Town which most people are familiar with, but a more sprawling part further out) immediately abutting Northwest DC and their pilot food waste composting program involving 300 households.  See "Coming to a curb near you: Compost collection."

Seattle has been collecting food waste since 2005 as part of the city's composting and waste collection program which began in 1989.  Although the city still encourages backyard composting. 

At this point, we should be less focused on heralding "new" "experiments" with composting food waste and be more focused on why we aren't adopting best or better practices.

Although note that Montgomery County, where Takoma Park is located, has an extensive yard waste diversion program and massively promotes backyard composting.  The Leafgro® organic compost product available locally is produced in part from Montgomery County's leaf collection program.

See the past blog entries "Urban Composting" and "Urban Composting Redux."

2.  The next direction in this kind of practice should be the provision of chipper/shredder services.  (We can only burn in the fireplace so many twigs, branches, and firewood.)

3.  And managing the urban forest also for revenue, although this is happening more in DC in terms of milling wood from fallen trees.

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At 8:43 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

In terms of low hanging fruit:

1. Multiunit still don't recycle. I see that in my new building, there is a "paper" bin but it isn't being maintained or emptyied properly. Given the price of burnable trash in fairfax is this a surprise?

2. Moving from the EPA targets that aim at consumers, rather than the EU approach that targets companies to reduce packaging size and waste. It goes back to 1974 and the decision to go over consumers rather than larger waste piles. Can DC or anystate do this alone?

3. Revenue? from urban trees? Again, maybe for mulch.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

well, not huge revenues, but instead of mulching the wood, make firewood and lumber out of it.

2. The EPA thing is not something that DC can really do, is it? Although maybe California is big enough to do it, but yes, the overall design approach is what's necessary.

3. Multiunit buildings are supposed to do recycling but probably the city isn't regularly dealing with/monitoring it.

It'd be easy to do, like how DCFD fire marshals check out buildings and how ArCo TDM programs at individual buildings are monitored and checked for compliance.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

well, let's be honest, in Arlington they aren't checking either at private buildings. They do check they have a bin but nobody cares beyond that.

You've written about the SF 0% stream, agree that is a federal problem. I've always wondered why we don't have more public bins that would accept valuable recycleables (paper, cardboard and metal) vs usefull plastic+glass.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Well, the big problem is that people are "stupid." I mean, either they don't pay attention to the difference between a recycle bin and a regular trash bin or they don't know what goes in a recycle bin and what does not. (This is true for the curbside waste collection process too.)

If you ever look at the "recycle" "bins" at Starbucks (they have over time significantly reduced their provision of useful recycling containers), most of the stuff put in the recycle sections of combined bins is not recyclable. (Even the cups aren't fully compostable, unless they use for the liner of the cup not plastic but something that is biodegradeable. I used to bring coffee cups home from say Cosi, and compost them, only to have to pick out little pieces of plastic from the finished product.)


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