The city is squandering Williamsburg’s vast reserves of discarded table scraps and should bring its curbside compost collection service to the neighborhood soon so it can capitalize on the abundant supply of worm food instead of paying to dump it in landfill, say residents who have backed an online appeal demanding access to the program.
“They’re throwing away good resources,” said Summer Rayne Oakes, a 10-year Williamsburg resident who launched the petition a month ago and has since racked up 137 digital autographs. “The city spends so much money having to deal with our trash, and I don’t know how many billions of dollars we waste a year in throwing out compost.”
The sanitation department has been slowly rolling out its fledgling organic collection program throughout Brooklyn since 2013. It has since brought its brown bins to houses in Greenpoint, Bay Ridge, Park Slope, Sunset Park, and Windsor Terrace, and will expand into Red Hook, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens this month.
The eco-conscious Williamsburgers say it should be their turn next, and they may get their wish — Oakes sent her petition to Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Williamsburg) and Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint) when it hit 100 names, and the pols have organized a meeting between signatories and the department of sanitation for later this month.
One signatory, who moved to the nabe from San Francisco a few months ago, says he was shocked to learn that the famously bohemian enclave did not have a door-to-door compost-collecting service.
“We never thought of ourselves as moving to a less progressive place or less thoughtful place,” said Kayvon Tehranian, one of four locals who will attend the scrap summit with Oakes. “It felt a little that way when we experienced not being able to do anything with our compost.”
Oakes is confident the program will be a hit in her ’hood — many locals already walk their waste to McCarren Park, where volunteer group the North Brooklyn Compost Project maintains a compost pile, she said.
“So many of the people I know are doing it already and are hoofing it to McCarren Park,” she said.
But not everyone in the area has such a rosy view of the brown bins. Greenpointers raised a stink in June the city rolled them out to their streets and putrid stenches began wafting out thanks to composting rookies leaving old meat and dairy to fester in the receptacle between pickups.
But Williamsburgers can learn better bin practices, said Oakes, and besides — the same scrap would stink just as badly in a bin of a different color.
“The same stuff would be going in the garbage,” she said. “You’re throwing it away anyway. But people don’t complain about the garbage smell because they’re so accustomed to it.”
A rep for Reynoso, who has been a staunch advocate for program as chair of the city’s sanitation committee, said their office is keeping its fingers crossed for the sanitation department’s decision.
“We are patiently waiting for our turn and hoping it comes soon,” said legislative director Lacey Tauber.