Across the United States, heavily populated cities are proving that composting in urban areas can work, and work well. Many large cities are changing their views on waste as residents and businesses partake in their local compost programs. These programs turn compostable items, such as food waste and lawn scraps, into fresh soil for use in places like urban farms and community gardens.

Here are five unique urban composting programs that are helping to generate healthy soil for plants and working to decrease the amount of waste in landfills at the same time. Not to mention, healthy soil = healthy plants = healthy people and planet.

Detroit Dirt – Detroit, Michigan 

Photo Courtesy of Detroit Dirt

Photo Courtesy of Detroit Dirt

Detroit is commonly referred to as the automobile capital of the world, which doesn’t instantly scream environmental consciousness. In 2011, two Michigan natives set out to renew Detroit and educate the public about sustainable food and composting. Together, entrepreneur Pashon Murray and urban farmer Greg Willerer joined forces to create Detroit Dirt. The company takes food scraps from local restaurants and businesses and composts them into quality soil for local farmers and gardeners. Detroit Dirt is committed to turning vacant city land into urban farms. Their goal is to rebuild a more sustainable Detroit one empty lot at a time.

Compost Cab – Washington, DC

Compost Cab adds convenience to composting in Washington, DC, and surrounding areas. This program provides everything participants need to collect compost, including compost collection bins and liners. Once a week, the company picks up compostable waste from homes, local schools and various businesses. Jeremy Brosowsky, founder of Compost Cab has a great motto: “If it grows, it goes.” After compost is collected, Compost Cab delivers the waste to local urban farms and gardens, where it is composted. In the future, Compost Cab is plans to expand to other east coast locations with the goal of creating sustainable cities.

Photo courtesy of the NYC Compost Project

Photo courtesy of the NYC Compost Project

NYC Compost Project – New York, New York

New York produces an enormous amount of waste due to the city’s high population density. To help combat the amount of food waste in landfills, New York created a compost program called the NYC Compost Project. In addition to hosting compost collection and distribution sites, the NYC Compost Project offers public education about compost and helps establish urban farms. The program has been very successful since its start in 2013. In the next few years, city officials hope to make composting mandatory for all businesses and residents.

A1 Organics – Las Vegas, Nevada

Compost is probably the last thing on tourists’ minds while vacationing in Las Vegas. Surprisingly, a company called A1 Organics is busy working behind the scenes with casino resorts to ensure food and lawn scraps don’t end up in landfills. The company also collects compostable waste from local grocery stores and landscape businesses. A1 Organics continues to grow while fulfilling founder Chuck Wilson’s main goal of recycling food waste from the Strip.

Growing Power – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Photo Courtesy of Growing Power

Photo Courtesy of Growing Power

Will Allen, founder of Growing Power, has a very special relationship with compost. In fact, he created the innovative composting and vermicomposting techniques used at the urban farm’s headquarters in Milwaukee. The unique process of vermicomposting uses worms to refine thousands of pounds of compost and add additional fertilization. Each week, Growing Power collects and composts more than 400,000 pounds of food waste. They also compost local brewery and coffeehouse waste, as well as 500 pounds of Milwaukee Sentinel Journals a week.

Do you know of a fantastic urban or rural composting program? Share it with us in the comments!