Composting and Rainwater Harvesting in the City

Composting and Rainwater Harvesting in the City

Ahead of the City of Milwaukee’s compost bin and rain barrel truckload sale, DPW Recycling Assistant Becky Curtis shares some great ways that composting and rainwater harvesting help the environment, our wallets, and our community.

As warm weather moves in, our thoughts turn to lush gardens filled with fresh produce and yards full of beautiful flowers. Where does it all start? Healthy soil and water, of course! Composting and rainwater harvesting are great ways to boost crop and flower yields, conserve resources, reduce waste, and much, much more!


You already know that composting reduces the need for fertilizer and watering by replenishing nutrient levels and promoting healthy soil that holds water more efficiently. Did you also know that reducing the amount of organic materials sent to landfills also decreases methane production, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide? It is estimated that nearly 25% of the trash that is thrown out is made up of organic materials that could have been composted rather than sent to a landfill. Having 1,000 residents in the community actively composting would divert 600,000 lbs of organic waste from going to local landfills each year!

Orange peels, apple cores, vegetable scraps, garden trimmings, coffee grounds and filters…the list of compostable materials goes on and on. Whether we grow our own produce or enjoy trips to local farmers’ markets, we can all benefit from composting organic materials and reducing our waste stream.

Rainwater Harvesting

If April showers bring May flowers, we should get ready for quite a dazzling show. So far this season, heavy rains have resulted in two sewer overflows and undoubtedly a significant number of basement backups. Harvesting rainwater through the use of a rain barrel is an easy way to help. According to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), the risk of backups and overflows could be reduced by 11 million gallons if all customers reduced water usage by just 10 gallons on days with heavy rainfall.

Using a rain barrel also helps you to save money on your water bill and conserves a precious resource – water. Just one inch of rain falling on a 1,000 square foot roof provides 600 gallons of rainwater for use on lawns and gardens – without turning on the tap!

Compost Bin and Rain Barrel Sale

In order to encourage composting and rainwater harvesting, the City of Milwaukee will host a one-day-only, first-come first-served backyard compost bin and rain barrel sale event. It all happens on Saturday, May 4th, 2013 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Washington Park Senior Center parking lot at 4420 W. Vliet St., rain or shine. A limited number of Earth Machine™ compost bins and SYSTERN rain barrels will be available for $45 and $55 respectively (including tax), offering significant savings from regular retail prices of $100 and $120. This sale is not restricted to City of Milwaukee residents. Hundreds attended last year’s event, and the City of Milwaukee is bringing it back again by popular demand.

Visit or call (414) 286-CITY (2489) for more information.


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