The City of Portland Public Services Department’s third annual composting promotion is underway, and the public has until May 1st to order their kit. The program offers compost bins, wing diggers, kitchen waste pails and rain barrels at discounted prices for purchase. Last year more than 500 compost bins, wing diggers, kitchen pails and rain barrels were sold through the program. In line with Portland's sustainability goals, the city endorses compost as an environmentally responsible alternative to fertilizing lawns and gardens and an efficient way to manage organic waste. Twenty-five percent of the average household's waste consists of yard trimmings and kitchen scraps, which can easily be composted. Home composting combined with recycling and yard waste programs can reduce household waste by up to eighty percent.
The 2010 home compost bin and how-to guide are available at a reduced cost of $40.00 (original price $100). The bin has a 10 year warranty, made of 100% recycled plastic and is large enough for a family of five. Kitchen Waste Pails, for kitchen food scraps, are available for $8.00 each and the wing digger compost turner can be purchased for a discounted price of $17.00. For the second year, people can also purchase a 55 gallon capacity Rain Barrel for $57.00 (visit online for more informationhttp://publicworks.portlandmaine.gov/rainbarrel.pdf). Orders will be taken in person or via mail at the Department of Public Services, 55 Portland Street, Portland ME 04101 until May 1, 2010. Order forms are available online at http://publicworks.portlandmaine.gov/compostform.pdf. Payment in the form of check or money order should be made payable to MRRA (Maine Resource Recovery Association) and must be made when placing your order. All orders will be available for pick-up May 22, 2010 at the Solid Waste Division on District Road (Entrance at 2360 Congress Street) from 7:00 AM -3:00 PM.
Last year, Portland residents delivered 2700 tons of yard waste to Riverside Recycling Center, which cost more than 100 thousand dollars ($100,000.00) to manage. Composting yard waste and non-meat food scraps at home instead of disposing of them reduces waste management costs and provides homeowners with a valuable soil amendment. Sustainable lawn care practices such as yardscaping (which includes reduced mowing and aerating along with the use of compost) help the environment by growing lawns that are less dependent on chemicals, fertilizers and watering.
In addition to composting organics, residents are encouraged to "mow high," generating shorter grass clippings that compost better. It is estimated that the average American spends forty hours a year mowing their lawn, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and causing air pollution. In fact, a lawnmower pollutes as much in one hour as an automobile driving 350 miles.
In 2004, 3 million pounds of yard care pesticides were purchased in Maine, more than three times the amount purchased ten years before. The use of pesticides and fertilizers pose a health risk to Portland's water ways. Excess nitrogen, a component of most fertilizers, can cause nuisance algae growth in Casco Bay.
Contact the Department of Public Services at 874-8801 for more information about the composting program. For more information about yardscaping, visit the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District online http://www.cumberlandswcd.org/ .