The benefits of composting include boosting garden plant health and reducing the amount of organic waste that ends up in local landfills – resulting in anywhere from a reduction of 50-75 percent in yard waste alone. Here is a simple guide to composting locally in Philadelphia.

The Basics

  • Select a spot that is convenient to access but away from windows (for obvious reasons).
  • Make sure your composting spot is open – sunny or shady not an issue – and that it is close to a faucet or in easy reach of your garden hose.
  • Select a container; it can be an old trash can with holes drilled into the sides and bottom or you can purchase a container online or from your local hardware or garden supply company.
  • As you add household scraps and yard waste, alternate the green and brown layers and keep the composting matter damp. Green layers consist of vegetable and fruit waste, while brown is made up of leaves and shredded newspaper.
  • Always end with brown to keep the food matter covered.
  • You can then let your composting matter sit as it “cooks” and start another bin.

The Resources

Learn about composting in the Philadelphia area at workshops offered by various organizations, including The Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania, who also offers a series of online workshops.

Need compost for your residential garden or lawn? Fairmount Park offers Philadelphia residents the opportunity to visit its organic recycling center. Up to 30 gallons of compost, mulch, wood chips and herbivore manure are available to residents at no charge, and additional quantities can be purchased as needed.

Even if you don’t have a garden or a yard with enough space for composting, your family can compost much of your household organic waste – fruit and veggie peels and scraps, leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells, grass clippings and more – by contracting with local businesses to pick it up right from your home.

Philadelphia residents can contract with local organic recycling and food waste collectors to pick up compost for as little as $15 a month. Some families, according to Bennett Compost, share a compost “bucket” with neighbors, distributing both the expenses and the pride that comes with making a positive environmental difference for their community.

Where does the compost go once a contractor has collected it? Philly Compost takes the organic waste and recyclables it collects to Two Particular Acres, a family farm in Montgomery County, just outside of Philadelphia. TPA is the recipient of the very first on-farm compost permit issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which grants the farm the authority to compost a variety of organic matter including separated food waste, manure and yard waste.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories

Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on