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Compost with less commitment

Compost with less commitment

  • Updated

Take a moment to think about all of the food you’ve thrown away over the past year. Not just bottom-of-the-bowl scraps or the weekly fridge takeout container purge, but also fruit and vegetable peelings, eggshells, used coffee grounds. Over time, that all adds up.

Buffalo’s newly expanded public food waste recycling program Scrap It! gives Western New Yorkers the opportunity to dispose of food scraps in a safe and environmentally friendly way, year-round, without having to compost at home.

The City of Buffalo set a goal to recycle 34% of its waste over the next few years through various efforts, including composting. Diverting food scraps is one of the most effective ways to do this because it accounts for a large amount of household waste.

Rather than being sent to the landfill, food scraps collected through the program will be converted to compost, which can be useful for our community parks, gardens and trees. Through the practice of composting, organic material breaks down into a natural fertilizer that can be safely applied to the environment.

Composting has several long-lasting benefits. In addition to creating a rich, natural fertilizer for farming and gardening, it also reduces the amount of organic waste in landfills, which emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Plus, it captures harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air and aids in carbon sequestration, the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide—one of the leading factors that contributes to climate change.

A true composting operation is no easy feat, and many don’t have the space at home required to do it effectively. But now, all you need is a small bucket or plastic container to get started.

To participate in Scrap It!, collect the acceptable food waste items—fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and used coffee filters, tea bags, nuts and eggshells—in any reusable plastic container or a free Scrap It! compost pail (pick one up anytime at Thin Ice on Elmwood Avenue). Be sure to brush up on what's non-compostable, too, to avoid contaminating your collection with items like coconuts, meat and fish, greasy and oiling scraps or dairy.

Designated drop-off points include the newly added year-round one outside Caffe Aroma, at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway. From June through October, residents can also drop off their scraps at six different locations, including the South Buffalo Farmers Market, Massachusetts Avenue Project Farmstand, North Buffalo Farmers Market, Broadway Market, Downtown Country Farmers Market and Tops Markets on Jefferson. Buffalo Upcycling then collects all the food scraps and transports to the Buffalo River Compost.

The newest team of landscapers

Buffalo’s newest team of four-legged friends is clearing overgrown landscapes, one bite at a time.

Founded in 2018, Let’s Goat Buffalo offers Western New Yorkers an all-natural landscaping alternative. From small invasive plant infestations to overgrown residential, commercial and public properties, goatscaping gets results while minimally impacting the natural environment.

“Goatscaping is a simple, natural solution for managing invasive or problematic plant growth,” said owner Jennifer Zeitler. “They can eat an unimaginable amount of foliage in a short period of time, and because of their unique ruminant digestive process, they can be a more effective treatment than mowing or chemicals.”

What many don’t realize is that trimming or mowing an invasive plant often further contributes to an infestation because those methods allow plants to spread and reproduce.

“The seeds and rhizomes in plants are sterilized when goats eat them, so their waste does not spread new growth,” said Zeitler. “They’re effective without causing other damage to soil or pollinator species.”

Traditional landscaping methods involving pesticides have destructive effects on natural habitats that insects and wildlife depend on for survival. Let’s Goat Buffalo is dedicated to changing the way current land clearing and landscaping works—providing a more sustainable option.

Let’s Goat Buffalo works in cooperation with local organic dairy farm Alpine Made. Retired milking goats, as well as baby male goats, are purchased from the farm and join the goatscaping crew

for a leisurely life of eating.

“We board the goats back on the farm when not out on jobs,” said Zeitler, “which provides revenue to support the entirely organic practices at Alpine Made, thus creating a circle of support for both woman-owned businesses.”

Last year, Let’s Goat Buffalo partnered with many important local organizations to landscape well-known locales including Como Lake Park for Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, Stella Niagara Preserve for the Western New York Land Conservancy, South Park and the Delaware S-curves for the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the Richardson Olmsted Campus.

This season, the company will have two herds working, each made up of about 12 goats. “A small yard can often be cleared in just a day or two,” said Zeitler. “Goats don’t mind poison ivy, which some landscapers avoid for obvious reasons.”

That being said, goats find more success with certain types of jobs.

“They do not leave a manicured lawn, and don’t eat short grass,” explained Zeitler. “They are more effective at removing tall weeds, brush and dense overgrowth. They’re also great for getting into awkward spaces and rocky or uneven areas where using equipment or machinery isn’t possible.”


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