Fight Back Bay Ridge plays compost matchmaker

Fight Back Bay Ridge, the grass-roots group that promotes civic activism, is getting trashy! But in a good way.

The group is expanding its mission to try to help local residents get comfortable with the composting revolution.

Members of FBBR are encouraging people to compost and are planning a public awareness campaign aimed at helping Southwest Brooklyn apartment dwellers find places to bring their food scraps, leaves and other waste that could be turned into compost.

Compost is organic matter that has decomposed and can be used to enrich soil. Compost is rich in nutrients, and is used in gardens and organic farming.

The city’s Department of Sanitation introduced compost collection a few years ago, even distributing special receptacles for residents to store their organic trash. But the program could use a boost, according to FBBR leaders, who are eager to promote composting.

“One reason for the low interest in composting was because people don’t understand how it works,” said FBBR member Jeannine Bardo. “But some of it was also the amount of large buildings in Bay Ridge that weren’t participating. Composting is really simple. It’s easier than people think it is.”

FBBR member Alan Holt knows first-hand the challenges the city faces with its composting program. “When I asked my landlord if our building could participate, he acted as though I asked to install a helipad on the roof,” he said.

FBBR wants to remedy the situation and it is using its grass-roots expertise to do it.

For starters, FBBR has put together a list of all residents who currently compost and who are willing to allow another person to dispose of their organic trash in their bins. A second list contains the names of residents living in apartments in non-participating buildings who have no place to bring their trash.

“We are going to match them up,” FBBR Co-Founder Mallory McMahon told this newspaper.

The group planned to set up a table at the Fifth Avenue Spring Festival on Sunday, June 2 to distribute information.

FBBR is also busy spreading the word about two new Bay Ridge drop-off sites established by the DOS for residents to bring their organic waste. The two sites are: the 64th Street Community Garden and the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church.

In addition, FBBR successfully worked with Councilmember Justin Brannan to reinstate a drop-off site at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket. The greenmarket is open every Saturday in the parking lot of Walgreens Drug Store at 9408 Third Ave.

It’s all part of a public awareness campaign FBBR is conducting to promote composting and its environmental benefits.

“We have always been an action group. Fight Back Bay Ridge has always been about fighting for public policies and working for changes on the local level,” McMahon said. “But we realize that we can’t just rely on politicians to make change. We have to work on the things we’d like to see.”

The new composting effort was a brainchild of Bardo, who attended a FBBR meeting a few months ago and proposed the idea of getting more involved in the climate change debate.

Composting helps reduce the effects of climate change by reducing the amount of trash in landfills, according to scientists. In a landfill, food waste breaks down to produce methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

“I proposed to the group we work together on a climate change action plan,” Bardo said. “One of the issues we focused on was composting because DSNY had this great program already in place, and it was rolled out in our neighborhood.”

Composting has personal benefits too, according to Bardo.

“It makes you more aware of what you are throwing out,” she told this newspaper.

FBBR has found enthusiastic partners in the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church and the 64th Street Community Garden.

“So many of our neighbors have been wanting to participate in such a campaign, so joining with the city’s Curbsite Organic collection, we can now offer this resource, helping out our neighbors and our city,” Pastor David Aja-Sigmon said in a statement.

Daniel Gialcone of the 64th Street Community Garden said the partnership helps both FBBR and the garden. “By opening our site we can increase the amount of compost we can generate for the garden,” he stated. “I hope this program will help more people understand the need for our environment to recycle waste as much as possible.”

FBBR has spearheaded environmentally-friendly initiatives in the past.

Last year, the group organized volunteers to pick up litter left behind by tourists viewing the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Display.

For more information on FBBR, visit the group’s Facebook page:

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