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San Francisco Becomes First City to Require Composting

If you haven't jumped on the composting bandwagon yet, now might be a good time to start: composting is slowly but surely being written into the law. Last week, San Francisco, CA, became the first US city to pass a bill requiring mandatory recycling of food scraps. The legislation, which takes effect this Fall, asks all of the city's residents and businesses — including restaurants — to compost food scraps. Although a number of dwellers and establishments have voluntarily composted over the years, it is now obligatory.

Under the new rules, companies and city residents could face $500 fines if their garbage isn't organized into recyclable, trash, and compostable categories. Since I don't have a compost pail yet, it's high time that I invest in one. Although it's an extra step when taking out the trash, I'm glad to hear that the local government is being more environmentally conscious — and I hope other cities soon follow suit. How would you feel about mandatory composting in your neighborhood?

Image Source: Getty
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ahles ahles 7 years
I can't believe some of the fuss in these comments. This is no different than recycling plastics. And freedoms? Seriously? Unless you're paying for your own private trash service, you're using city funds. I wish we had mandatory compost collection here, because my property taxes fund not only the collection of your banana peels, but also to haul them down to a landfill 100 miles away when they could be composted right here and then used in the parks around town instead of ground water polluting chemicals that end up in private wells.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 7 years
And whatever happened to positive reinforcement? Aren't the libs for no negative reinforcement in child rearing. why not offer a benefit to those that actually compost. The city benefits from people doing this, that is why they impose the fine, because they want to make money, all under the guise of saving the planet. HAHA Oh and meike, when I was in germany i thought the trash cans were amazing. i have been searching for one here in the states for a while now to no avail. I currently have a regular trash can in the kitchen and separate my recycling in the garage between cans/bottles (which I give to my low income mother) and all other (paper cardboard etc) But it would be so much cooler to have them all in the same place. So my recommendation to the city of SF is to make it easier for people to recycle. Every public trash can should be like in Germany with the 4 compartments, instead of having to lug around everything that is recyclable until you see a recycling can or get home. Start there. Supply the trash cans to each home. You would be surprised how many people would recycle if their trash cans were divided for them.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 7 years
Ok quick question, I have a "green waste" can, is this compost. Is this what they are referring to. And if so can I put fruits/veggie scraps in there?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I just started reading about San Francisco's composting program today, so I am by no means an expert, but my understanding is that they collect it and give it (sell it?) to local farmers. For individuals, everyone I know who composts either has a small garden or has a neighbor/friend/relative with a small garden. I'm guessing some larger cities offer pick up, like San Francisco.
xxstardust xxstardust 7 years
If like kimbo said, composting is important because it creates a natural fertilizer and reduces the reliance on chemical fertilizer ..... what do you do with it if you don't need fertilizer? If you don't grow anything on your property, won't use it, etc - what's the difference between composting and letting it decompose just the same in a landfill? Is there someone coming along to collect my newly made compost? Can I sell it for a profit?
cine_lover cine_lover 7 years
Haus I would not put it past SF at all. I just love how an economically failing city and state are suppose to be the ones that the rest of Americans are suppose to "look up to" and modify their behavior after. Seems like we should be acting like Texas not Cali who are issuing IOU's.
brookrene brookrene 7 years
I quite frankly believe they should ban ALL items that don't compost. Why even waste the time with the so-called "trash". If you all are forced to buy only compostable items then SF will be totally set! /sarc
syako syako 7 years
A black market for Huggies! The mob is going to scoop right in. ;)
hausfrau hausfrau 7 years
Cine, I know you're kind of being facetious. But yeah. I give it 1 year before disposable diapers are no longer able to be sold within city limits.
cine_lover cine_lover 7 years
:notworthy: Lilkim! What is SF going to do next? Ban disposable diapers? You those do a heck of a lot more harm than decomposing food.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Oh, and PinkUnicorn, I meant to respond! The main benefit of composting is that the compost can be used as a natural fertilizer, so it can be used both to grow more crops and to cut down on the use of chemical fertilizers.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Meike, I'm not a moron. I got what you said out of your post. Maybe you meant to say that it is government intervention, but that it's ok because it's for the common good, but that's not what you said. You plainly stated that it's no government intervention. You can try to backtrack and act like I'm an unintelligent person who is incapable of understanding basic points, but what you said stands. Additionally, no one stated that this law is a "tactic," it was simply stated that it is government intervention. It is government intervention, plain and simple. You seem to be alright with the government intervening to do something that you think is GOOD. It's ridiculous to say that because it's not one of the "five freedoms" that it's not important. Are only certain freedoms important? It's a ridiculous argument to make. I think water (some) water laws are ridiculous as well. However, those tend to be not about helping the environment, but about making sure that people have clean water available to drink when it's needed, so that's another issue entirely. The point about common sense makes no sense in reference to laws because I don't think it's the government's responsibility to be going around legislating common sense. I am astounded at the fact that you think that the argument that taking away freedom is weak! That's preposterous. Although, you have missed an important distinction. No one here is in any way arguing against recycling or composting. I, along with others, am arguing against forced composting. This is an important distinction, but in your rush to (unsuccessfully) "prove" that my argument is weak, I see that you have chose to ignore it. Or, maybe you didn't ignore it, you just purposely omitted it to try to strengthen your statement. My point with Iran is that we can bring in any outside subject, but that they have nothing to do with the argument at hand. I got your point; apparently you didn't get mine. However, if we live in a world where only the most egregious violations of rights matter, I guess we shouldn't be concerned about freedom of assembly, since life is worse for people in Iran! I'm not sure where you're getting anything about personal responsibility, as I haven't mentioned it here at all. You seem to be assuming things about my personal philosophy. That's your right, but I think it would be GOOD if you didn't have that right any longer, so I think I will try to introduce a law that will fine you for assuming things. Additionally, you have missed an important distinction. Generally, those who believe in personal responsibility believe that it's not the government's responsibility to interfere when people get themselves in a mess, which is right in line with the belief that it's not the government's responsibility to interfere in this case, either. It's about minimizing government interference in all aspects of life. Although, as I've said, I have always composted, so I am taking personal responsibility. Forced responsibility is at the opposite end of the spectrum from personal responsibility. It seems as if you've missed sy's point, as well. She was stating that your only basis as to why this law is just is that you think it's GOOD to compost. What if the government decides we aren't free as you say, to "be lazy," and decides to outlaw television and force us to work out? Technically, from a health standpoint, it's GOOD, so I guess that law is OK, too, right? I mean, being lazy is not a right, right?
Meike Meike 7 years
I realize being lazy is a freedom and I feel you completely miss the point of my post. The emphasis was that the new law does far more good for society than the fact that it can simply be labeled as another tactic of, duh, government intervention. It's compost for goodness sake, not freedom of religion, press, speech, or assembly. And, it is towards something GOOD. You also state the negative consequence is a penalty fee for not doing something that would help the environment. It's like me who lived in the desert of Las Vegas who can only water her yard during night for water conservation. The times you could sprinkle your yard was mandated by the city government and you would be penalized if you were caught watering your yard during the sun's peak hours. It's not only helping the environment, it's common sense. Honestly, if the only negative argument you have against composting and recycling is that it's taking away your freedom to be lazy, then your argument is quite weak against the positive effects of the law. About my comment on Iran, it has nothing to do with what we can do for them as Americans and has more to do with the fact that they are truly fighting against a government that genuinely is breaching their freedom. And, here we sit as Americans being spoiled by consumerism and declaring we have a right not to compost because it infringes on our rights to be lazy asses. "I'll cry about personal responsibility of other people but not my own." Syako, there will always be laws I agree with and disagree with. It didn't take any waking up to realize it. I'll fight for laws that are as common sense as water conservation.
PinkUnicorn PinkUnicorn 7 years
Can someone explain to me (and I really want to know, I'm not being sarcastic) how just throwing veg waste in the garbage is really worse than composting? Won't the food waste just break down and "compost" naturally at the dump? I completely understand recycling and not throwing things that won't ever break down into the dumps and landfills, but I genuinely don't understand the environmental implications of throwing organic matter out...
syako syako 7 years
Oh and I agree with Lil, the idea of not being free to be lazy is hilarious. What's next? We're not free to be stressed? Free to be angry? Free to assume things about people on the Internets? Free to be apathetic?
syako syako 7 years
Your freedoms are flying out the window. You may not notice it now because you "agree" with it, but wait until the city (or any other level of govt.) forces you to do something you disagree with it and you'll finally wake up. In this case, it doesn't matter how "green" you are, or how much you loooooove the planet, it's taking your freedom to choose whether to compost or not away from you. That's a freedom going flying out the window. I don't understand how that's not obvious. :?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
By the way, I'd say you're one of maybe 10 Americans who doesn't think that being lazy is a freedom. That is seriously one of the most bizarre statements I have ever heard. And for the record, I have been composting literally since I was born. My parents started composting in the 60's and never stopped. I just don't think the government should force it upon us.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
And I think your consistent personal attacks upon those who disagree with you are make you a prime example as to why people from Europe have such a negative opinion about the States as a whole.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
You really don't think being lazy is a freedom? What legal basis do you have for that statement?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Murmur, instead of jumping down my throat, throughly read all of the comments. I was responding directly to Meike's use of the phrase "negative incentive." Last time I checked, paying $500 is a negative consequence, but if you think giving away money is positive, pm me and I'll send you my address so you can send me a check!
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