Like me, some of you may be thinking of ways to live in a greener, healthier, more environmentally conscious way. For me, eating lots of fresh produce and cooking at home as often as possible allows me to:

a) Know exactly what I put into my body from a nutritional point of view;

b) Cut out processed foods that contain chemical preservatives and artificial ingredients; and

c) Support local farmers who supply organic produce.

As delectable as it is to enjoy the fruits of my labor, I still feel that pang of guilt as my vegetable peelings and trimmings fall into the waste bin, destined for a miserly existence in a landfill – taking up precious space, rotting away next to tv screens, mirrors, and worn out shoes.  All that micro-organismic goodness going to waste.

The solution? Composting!

Compost is the natural by-product of decomposing organic matter.  It not only makes for an incredible fertilizer for your plants, but also helps the water retention of your soil, and its micro-organisms can ward off plant disease.

Back in Australia, when I had a backyard and plenty of space to put a spare bin in the corner, it was easy to toss all my discarded vegetable matter and grass clippings in there to get a compost pile going.  But as a city dweller in NYC, you all know space is much harder to come by, and sacrifice!  So here is a space conscious way to compost.

It  is what is known as the “lasagna” method, which as the name suggests, uses a layering technique between nitrogen rich greens (vegetable scraps, clippings, garden trimmings) and carbon rich browns (fallen leaves, shredded newspaper, pine needles, and woodchips).  It is low cost, and low maintenance.  And for those of you who are wanting to get a little planter box started, this is a great way to hit two birds with one stone.

Start with your designated planter box – this can be an old fruit crate or milk crate, something that is a bit aerated is best.  Line the bottom with cardboard or newspaper.  Then start alternating your brown and green layers, starting with the brown.  Make sure that your brown layers are twice as thick as your green layers.  When you are about 6 inches from the top of your planter box, top it off with soil and plant directly into the soil, on top of your compost layers.

Voila!  You have an inbuilt composting system in your planter box!  So get your compost on!  And feel free to send us photos of your own set up to les@greencitychallenge.org

We’d love to see it!