San Jose: Green in all the Right Places

Though San José is known globally as part of Silicon Valley, we have greener reasons to be proud.  According to Bright Green San Jose, our city recycles 71 percent of the waste we generate. Wow!  Further:

San Jose’s collective recycling helped the Recycle Plus program win the 2012 Green City Award from the national magazine Waste and Recycling News.  The award honored San José for having the most effective residential program for a large city in the United States.

One of the programs San José offers is composting workshops and bin sales.  I just started composting yard waste and kitchen scraps this year.  Our yard is small, and packed with plants and flowers with limited space for growing veggies.  I assumed composting required a lot of space and full sun. I purchased a Tumbling Composter earlier this year, which allowed me to compost kitchen scraps in a small space, diverting them from our landfill.

Tumbling Composter

Tumbling Composter

The tumbler filled quickly, so I started a second bin using an old Rubbermaid storage box. Now that’s full, too.  You can’t rush compost, so while I wait for nature to rot its course, I’m pondering my next move.

You know what’s funny?  I used to toss kitchen scraps or put them down the garbage disposal.  Now that I’m composting, throwing out the food waste feels wrong.

I’ve decided to attend one of San José’s free Backyard Composting Workshops to pick up some additional tips. The first workshop is March 27th, 2013.  They also sell Wriggly Ranch worm bins and Soil Saver compost bins at a steep discount.

In the meantime, any tips on composting in small spaces are welcome.  My counter top bin is filling rapidly, and those coffee grounds and pepper cores need a place to call home.

16 thoughts on “San Jose: Green in all the Right Places

  1. You probably don’t have room but I have constructed a compost “bay” using used wooden pallets on their sides with steel pickets hammered in – one at each end of each pallet. You can put wire mesh on the pallets if you want to stop stuff falling out but the gaps in the pallets aren’t that big.
    I’m about to make a second so that I can empty one to the other etc. At more than a cubic meter, I’ve found this style can accommodate prunings, lots of kitchen waste, even the odd catcher of grass clippings.
    Congratulations on your compost success.


    • Thanks, David for reading and commenting. I’ve seen a similar style as you describe, but don’t think I have the room. I like that you made your own using recycled materials. It’s amazing how much yard waste you have once you start saving it, especially this time of year with pine needles, leaves and other decay.


  2. I bought a vitamix 20 years ago and it’s still running perfectly. One of the many pluses was that it grinds up anything to liquid including kitchen green waste. I even cut up banana peels a bit and once liquid, applied with water around the roses. You can add the liquid to the bins or directly to the ground. Not sure if it will work for you but I had to stop with 3 bins in Burbank so it worked for me.


  3. Bravo San Jose. I guess you picked a good city to live, I know you are very conscious of your waste. When we lived at the lake, our county offered a green bin along with a blue bin and regular garbage pick up. Coffee grounds, grass clippings, potato/veggy peels, torn cardboard, etc all went in the green bin. So that really made it easy. We paid an extra $25/m In the city of Edmonton, we only have the Blue bag service so right now we just put our organics in the trash. I guess the good part is they do easily decompose, that being said, it’d be nice to recycle them too.


    • I love that idea of a green bin for food scraps. San Jose has a yard waste pickup, but I don’t think they allow food scraps. Since we literally leave it in a pile at the curb it would probably attract too many unwanted critters rummaging through the pile. We can also get a green bin, but it is small. I love hearing what other towns and cities are doing. Thanks, Boomdee.


        • The worms are multiplying. It’s fun digging my hand in there every now an again to check on them.

          Yes, a pile at the curb. We have two tractors come by, one with a hug set of crab like pincers and then an open truck to receive what’s been scooped.


          • You are a garden goddess, hands IN the worms…that sounds like an episode of ‘Fear Factor’. I might look in and say hello but I wouldn’t be shaking any hands….wait they don’t have hands. 😛
            That’s a cool green pickup, I bet you have some little boys in the neighbourhood that think that’s pretty neat.


            • LOL! I’m not sure why worms don’t bother me but they don’t. I’ve been known to rescue them bare-handed from the gutter after a heavy storm. I’ll even let tiny spiders walk on my hand and arm now. The bigger the spider, or the faster they move, the more creeped out I get. Ha!

              Yes, those scooping tractors are a little boy’s dream. When C. was two, we were always at the window on garbage day, watching them do their work. I even occasionally parked near construction sites where he could stay mesmerized for half an hour just watching them work. Good times!


  4. I can see you rescuing those guys. O boy, I am a priss with spiders. I think I’d manage with the worms better. When I worked at the garden center I’d spend half the day rescuing butterflies from the quonset. They’d get in and flip around but end up in a corner not able to get out, my employer indulged me because I’d come early and stay late…fun job but oh boy, hard work.
    What a super special thing to do with your young son, I bet that was just as fun for you as C. You’re the best.


    • Oh what a nice surprise! Thanks so much. I’m pleased (and proud) of our City’s accomplishments on this front. I will definitely check out the Master Gardeners program as well.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  5. I compost and have wanted one like this. However…don’t know if I am patient to put it together. Right now I use a huge planting pot on the patio. I have had several plants sprout in my compost including ta da….avocado seeds! I feel guilty too throwing out scraps. I do love the smell of composting onions!


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