Some food waste is inevitable, but you can keep this out of the waste stream with very little effort.  And there are several different options, depending on how involved you want to be in the process.

  • Want to get down and dirty and start your own compost pile? – see 1st section below for all the info you’ll need 
  • Love the idea  of home composting, but don’t  want to do it yourself  or want to compost everything, not just fruits and veggies   – see “Other Composting Alternatives” section below for info on four local companies,  Bootstrap Compost, Black Earth Compost, and City Compost, that will provide you with a compost bucket for your food scraps, pick it up each week, and leave you with a fresh bucket.  They make compost out of the food waste.
  • Or do you want  to begin home composting, but need help  getting started?  – Then Dirty Boys Composting is the choice for you – “Other Composting Alternatives” section below for details and contact info.  

Composting Your Own Food Waste at Home

Some food waste is inevitable, but you can keep this out of the waste stream with a home compost bin. At the same time, you will be making great organic fertilizer for your garden and flower beds.  And it’s very easy to do.  Let’s start with a few basics:

Some Do’s and Don’ts:

  • All your vegetable and fruit wastes, (including rinds and cores) even if they are moldy and ugly
  • Old bread, donuts, cookies, crackers, pizza crust, noodles: anything made out of flour!
  • Grains (cooked or uncooked): rice, barley, you name it
  • Coffee grounds, tea bags, filters
  • Fruit or vegetable pulp from juicing
  • Old spices
  • Outdated boxed foods from the pantry
  • Egg shells (crush well)
  • Corn cobs and husks (cobs break down very slowly)
  • Meat or meat waste, such as bones, fat, gristle, skin, etc.
  • Fish or fish waste
  • Dairy products, such as cheese, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, etc.
  • Grease and oils of any kind

Why can’t you compost
these food wastes?

  • They inbalance the otherwise nutrient-rich structure of other food and vegetation waste and break down slowly
  • They attract rodents and other scavenging animals
  • Meat attracts maggots
  • Your compost bin will smell to holy hell and back!

 Inside Your Kitchen:

  • Get a medium-sized (1 gallon or slightly smaller) container with a cover to collect your daily food scraps.
  • Place it next to your sink
  • When full, empty it into your compost pile
  • You will quickly get into the composting habit!

Greens vs Browns:

  • You need the correct balance of “greens” and “browns” in your compost pile – twice as much “browns” as “greens” is about right.  Otherwise, the pile might smell and it won’t be a great fertilizer for your garden.
  • “Greens” are your kitchen waste and grass clippings
  • “Browns” are leaves, used paper napkins/towels, pizza boxes or other slightly soiled cardboard, etc.


home composting pic 2

  • The bigger  the volume, the quicker  it is to make compost


  • You need to turn your pile periodically with a shovel or pitchfork to aerate it
  • Your pile should be wet, but not soggy

Your Compost Pile:

  • It’s helpful to have 2-3 piles going at once:
    • a pile you are adding new materials to
    • a pile “still cooking”
    • a pile that is done/ready to use
  • Your compost pile can have many different forms, such as:
    • a standard black plastic compost container available from the Needham DPW for $65  (purchase bin at DPW building, 500 Dedham Ave., then present your receipt at the RTS & pick up your bin)
    • a circular container made of chicken wire
    • several connected/adjacent wood/wire bins
    • a “pile” in the corner of your yard
    • a cover of some type is recommended to help keep critters out of your compost

If you are really just trying to keep your food waste out of the waste stream, then you don’t need to be as fussy – just create a compost pile or use a bin, and keep adding your kitchen waste and a pile of leaves occasionally – it will eventually break down.  But it does  make a difference – home composting helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 250 lbs a year compared to a landfill.


Home Composting made easy

Kitchen waste composting


Other Composting Alternatives

Note: This list does not constitute an endorsement by Green Needham Collaborative for any individual company nor do we guarantee their services; we recommend you ask for and review references before contracting their services.

Bootstrap Compost is a residential food scrap pickup service. They use 5-gallon buckets outfitted with a compostable liner and tight-fitting lid. Each week or every other week, a Bootstrap rep will swap out your full bucket with a clean replacement bucket before hauling your organic scraps to one of three area farms for the purpose of making a nutrient-rich soil amendment. All residential customers are eligible to receive up to 60 pounds of compost per year, available upon request. To learn more about their education-driven mission, visit bootstrapcompost.comContact 617-642-1979

Black Earth Compost (BEC) is a commercial & residential food waste hauler, recycler and composter since 2010 and currently services over 8,000 residents via curb-side pick-up in 50+ towns in Eastern Massachusetts. Commercially, BEC services small, medium and large food waste generators such as supermarkets, hospitals, universities, restaurants, shopping malls etc. in accordance with the Mass DEP Organics Waste Ban implemented in 2014. The company can handle all food waste, as well as non-food, certified compostable items which they recycle into valuable soil amendments at their composting facility in Manchester MA. Black Earth Compost also provides curb-side textile recycling for its residential customers.

Black Earth Compost sells their finished compost by the bag in over 50 garden variety stores in New England in addition to selling it in bulk from 1- 45 yards per delivery.
Commercial:  Contact Tom LeClair  617-207-1070 (work)  | 617-803-8476 (mobile)  |  tleclair1974 (skype)
Residential:   978-290-4610 | Black Earth Compost

City Compost is another residential food scrap pickup service.  City Compost offers the opportunity to turn food scraps, including meat, fish, and dairy into fresh nutrient-rich soil through a curbside compost service. Help create more growing space for fresh food and protect the environment, all while being more sustainable. 100% of what they pick up will go towards growing more fresh food and is all independently processed to allow them to make the highest quality compost possible.  Service is as easy as putting out recycling; simply fill up the kitchen container with compostables throughout the week and empty this into your City Compost collection bucket that is picked up right by the road and replaced with a fresh one. All food types are accepted, plus napkins, paper towels, and other compostable items. Six months later, through the magic of nature, it is turned into soil! This can be received back for use in home gardens, or it will go towards local, sustainable farms.

City Compost can provide educational resources, compost consulting, and customized solutions for offices, cafes, restaurants, caterers, and other types of organizations as well. Visit to learn more or contact them directly at or 978-378-3048.

Dirty Boys Composting – Grant Berman, a former Newton South student, and his crew will handle your composting needs, including: compost bin purchase, delivery, installation; compost pile jump-start with top notch, Newton-bred, red wiggler worms; compost sifting and resuscitation; compost pile check ups and maintenance; family education, and on-call consultation. For more information visit the Dirty Boys Composting website or contact Grant at