Memo 1: The Future of Composting in NYC

To: Professor MacBride

From: Kelly Wu

Date: February 13, 2013

Re: Research Topic Proposal-The Future of Composting in New York City

My topic for this paper will concern the feasibility and adaptability of a widespread composting program in New York City. Disposal of food comprises much of the city’s waste, and investigating in sustainable methods to transform organic matter into something useful is worthy of exploration. Furthermore, the controversy concerning landfills and environmental justice clearly calls for a much healthier and safer method of waste management.

I would like to explore the challenges and obstacles of composting in such a unique place like New York City. Ultimately, I would like to answer the question: how would New York City implement a large scale composting program in the future? In order to answer this question, I would need to conduct research concerning the history and background of composting. What are the advantages and disadvantages of composting in New York City? Which method of composting (vermicomposting, aerobic composting, backyard composting, etc) is more beneficial to New York? Why has the city failed thus far in implementing a widespread composting program? Will alternatives such as landfills be a more efficient approach? Hopefully, by answering these questions, I will gain greater insight regarding the role of composting in the future of New York. I am also interested in comparing different successful composting programs around the world, and determine what features can be adapted into New York’s program.

For my research, I will start by looking at governmental websites such as and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency for background information regarding New York’s progress with composting thus far. I will also look at the NYC Department of Sanitation’s NYC Compost Project as well as visit different local compost project sites like the Lower East Side Ecology Center. I also discovered that there are compost sites at various Greenmarkets, which might prove to be yet another valuable resource in the future. In addition, I have looked at several environmental science databases such as Web of Science, ScienceDirect, and GreenFILE. I am concerned that my topic might be a bit general at the moment, but I am hopeful that it will become more specific as I delve deeper into my research.

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1 Response to Memo 1: The Future of Composting in NYC

  1. Samantha MacBride says:

    Hi Kelly

    Great topic – very rich potential for research. I am a bit concerned that you are biting off a lot to chew. Think about how you might narrow it down so that you are not overwhelmed. You might want to concentrate on the drop-off program in place at the Greenmarkets as a central focal point (other alternatives include home composting, curbside collection, drop off at botanical gardens, etc.). Also, don’t forget to research the connection between composting and climate change adaptation/mitigation in NYC.

    When you are further along in your research, I can set you up with some people to interview.

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