Composting in Denver: Good news for all those who collect orange rinds and bread crusts

It was a sad day for urban dirt farmers when it was announced several months ago that Denver would be shutting down its pilot compost collection program because of the budget crunch.

The test program, in which 3,300 Denver homes had their food scraps and other organic waste regularly collected by the city via green versions of the city's curbside recycling carts, had been going strong for a while thanks to a grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and donations from Rehrig Pacific and A1 Organics.

Now, however, the program has a renewed lease on life -- sort of.

Denver Public Works, Greenprint Denver and the Denver City Council teamed up and found a way to continue the pilot program through December 2010. The bad news is that all those of the original 3,300 test residents now have to pay a $9.75 monthly fee for the service or a one-time payment of $87.75. And it doesn't look like additional households can participate unless the program ends up needing more volunteers.

Still, it's a sign the city's willing to commit to compost collection, something several other U.S. municipalities have rolled out citywide. There's another positive step: Denver International Airport is launching a composting program at airport restaurants and employee break rooms.

Want to get in on the action, but aren't one of the lucky 3,300 that get to have the city pick up your kitchen scraps? No problem: Composting at home is a cinch, and it won't cost you a monthly fee. Here's a helpful city flyer detailing what and how to compost, as well as a list of places you can purchase the necessary compost bin.

Or maybe you can track down Mike Haynes, a local mad scientist of mulch who's cooked up some of the coolest compost bins around.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner