Are you kidding me? “Free Compost” I know. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Our city gives us free compost to take home for our yards, gardens, raised beds, landscaping or indoor plants. I went to the Sunnyvale Smart Station this week to pick some up.
I suspect that most people who get the free compost are driving trucks, and they shovel it into the bed of the truck, but I backed my Mini up to the pile, and filled two 5-gallon buckets. I may have to go back to get more, but this was how much I needed right now.
The city asks that you don’t take more than 96 gallons of free compost per week. The compost pile is available for residents of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos and Palo Alto. The compost is made from the yard trimmings collected from those 4 cities. Recology turns it into beautiful, nutrient-rich compost, ready to use. Even if you had a compost pile in your yard, and you had enough waste to add to it, and you were willing to turn it and keep an eye on the temperature (it heats up as it breaks down the plant material) it would probably take 6 months to a year to become as good as this free stuff.
Some of the benefits of using finished compost are that it improves soil structure, it fertilizes the plants, it helps your soil absorb more water, and it adds nutritional diversity to the garden. Your yard will use less water if you add compost. It reduces erosion and storm water run-off, because it helps your soil become more like a sponge.
The Sunnyvale Smart Station has other things happening like a Beverage Container Buy-Back program, a Re-Use area where you can take home items that have been rescued from the garbage, and you can dispose of demolition debris, concrete, dirt, and non-hazardous materials.
Accepted recyclable materials include (all free to drop-off): aluminum, clothing, shoes, milk and juice containers, paper, cardboard, plastic, scrap metal, paint, cooking oil, microwave ovens, holiday lights, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and motor oil.
You can also schedule a tour of the Smart Station. I went on one when I was a student in Leadership Mountain View and it was amazing to see how much material is sorted and prepared to go to various manufacturing plants and turned into new products. It was a very eye-opening experience and I definitely recommend going on the tour if you get the opportunity.
Thank you to the city of Mountain View for the free compost!