University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener
Success Story: Hillsborough Composting Workshops Take Out the Garbage

Composting workshops conducted by the Hillsborough County FYN team provide information to the public about all aspects of composting. Topics include different types of compost bins, elements of composting, the role of microorganisms, composting methods, building the pile, managing the system, odor, turning, watering, screening, and uses for compost. As part of the workshop, program attendees visit the Extension office mulch and compost bin demonstration area.

Attendees receive a compost bin and thermometer at the end of the workshop, so they can start recycling when they get home. An information packet is also provided, including a copy of the presentation, UF/IFAS articles on composting, and a "compost wheel." This tool describes what can be composted on one side and the other side is a problem-solver. The user can simply dial in any issue he or she has, and solutions are listed on the wheel.

A survey was recently conducted by Extension faculty in south-central Florida to determine the outcomes and impacts of the workshops, which are held at least once a month. Surveys were distributed to 4,024 households attending the workshops, primarily in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. Survey results showed a high success rate for the workshops. Nearly 250 respondents said they recycled three 32-gallon containers of yard debris each month. If that response is extrapolated to include all workshop attendees, 4.6 million gallons of yard and kitchen waste would be saved from going to the curb. Annually, this would be a savings of $43.29 per household, for a total of nearly $175,000.

Additionally, participating households wouldn't have to purchase mulch, compost, or soil amendments. If all 4,024 households did this, the savings would amount to $689,184, an annual savings of $216 per household.

For the workshop participants, the overall potential savings of on-site home recycling and composting versus landfill recycling would be $863,383. This concrete data on the monetary savings of recycling yard waste demonstrates to homeowners yet another value of composting.

For more information

Contact Lynn Barber, Hillsborough County Extension
Phone: (813) 744-5519



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