By Melissa Fili
MethuenLife Writer

Mix potato skins and eggshells, add grass clippings, fallen leaves and strips of newspaper, then a splash of water. Wait for “black gold” to appear!

Leading a “Composting Made Easy” program at Nevins Library are Environmental Planner Joe Cosgrove (left) and Conservation Officer Joe Giarrusso. They’re shown with a compost bin (foreground) and a rain barrel, both of which are available for purchase through the city. MethuenLife photo by Melissa Fili

Is it a recipe for magic?
No – it’s composting!
Last month at Nevins Library, Environmental Planner Joe Cosgrove and Conservation Officer Joe Giarrusso led a public discussion on “Composting Made Easy.” The city is striving to reduce its trash tonnage (which costs taxpayers money), and one way to put less in the garbage can is to collect things like fruit and veggie scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, etc., and create a compost bin.
“We were pushing 20,000 tons per year of trash in Methuen, which is unsustainable,” Cosgrove told several dozen audience members. “We’ve had a 30% reduction in trash since October (when the new program started) and a 21% increase in recycling.”
Composting is a way to remove Mother Nature’s garbage from the trash stream and turn it into deep, rich soil that can be used in planters, flower pots and even as mulch or to patch your lawn. Compost bins can be homemade or store-bought. They should be placed in a sunny spot, as heat breaks down the components and allows organisms to thrive, thus creating compost. There’s plenty of info online about composting, but the general rule is 3 parts brown (fallen leaves, shredded paper, pine needles, etc.) to 1 part green (scraps, grass clippings, eggshells, etc.). Essential ingredients for a compost pile are food, air and moisture. It generally takes 6 months for the process to complete.
Giarrusso warned that “a great compost area is a food source for animals” like raccoons and skunks, so many people prefer a covered compost bin to keep those pests away.
The city sells compost bins for $35 and rain barrels (which collect rain water that you can use to water your garden, thus saving money on your water bill) for $75. For more info, contact the Methuen Conservation Division at (978) 983-8650.