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Monday, June 27, 2016

Compost Livin' helps local residents recycle food waste

Sarah Stakes

If you regularly put your recyclable paper, cans, and bottles on the curb every week, do you wish there was a way to also keep food waste out of landfills?

That was something Annandale resident Sarah Stakes, who has embraced the “green” lifestyle, was trying to find. There are businesses that collect and compost food waste from restaurants, but she couldn’t find anyone who does this for homeowners in the Annandale area – so she started a company called Compost Livin.’

Compost Livin’ supplies customers with a five-gallon compost collection bin with a tight lid that can be kept outside, a one-gallon container for the kitchen counter, and a starter kit of compost bin liners.

Homeowners can fill their buckets with things like banana peels, egg shells, melon rinds, shrimp shells, coffee grounds, dairy products, bones, pasta, and dinner table leftovers. Used paper towels, uncoated paper plates, food-soiled newspaper, and even pizza boxes can be included, too. The compost items must Be bagged and placed inside the bin.

Compost Livin’ collects the bags of food waste once a week and drops them off at the Western Branch Composting Facility in Prince George’s County. That facility, operated by Maryland Environmental Services, turns yard waste and food scraps into compost soil. Stakes eventually plans to provide compost soil to her customers on a regular basis.

Compost Livin’ charges $30 a month or $80 a quarter. The first month is $15 for new customers. There is no minimum length of service; customers can drop the program whenever they want. Customers must live in Annandale, Falls Church, or Arlington. 

Recyling food waste is important, Stakes says, because food waste is the second largest contributor to landfills, and it’s relatively easy to turn it into a useful product. People can produce their own compost, but that’s a time-consuming process, and compost bins can attract pests.  

The Western Branch Composting Facility sells compost to local farmers and gardening companies, leading to a full circle of recycling, reuse, and sustainability. Stakes says recycling food waste through Compost Livin’ is a great way to maintain a green sustainable household without much effort.


  1. Maybe no one told her, but there is no landfill in Fairfax. Trash is sent to the incinerator on Furnace road where it is burned and converted to electricity. Nothing against composting but $30 a month is what I pay for trash pick up.

    1. Your good point on the affordability of this service notwithstanding, that facility isn't 100% efficient, 1/4 of the trash going in still needs to be landfilled.

  2. I appreciate the feedback. Composting food is still a great way to support your local farmers as well as keeping it out of your trashcan! In Fairfax County, a majority of residents do not pay an additional fee for trash/recycling services. Therefore, $30/month doesn't seem unreasonable to participate in a "green" program for food waste. It is the standard rate in MD/DC/VA for similar service providers.
    Thank you for your comments :)

  3. We moved to the county 6 mos ago from Alexandria. There are free composting services through the city where drop off happens at farmers markets. In the west coast many communities require composting. We should be doing that on the east coast too. We started composting a few months ago and have dramatically decreased the amt of bagged garbage we put on the curb each week. If the county can separately collect yard waste, then they can pick up food scraps. One point of correction about composting at home, as long as you don't include animal products, composting does not attract pests.