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Want to help make San Antonio more earth-friendly? Try composting

Deputy Chief of Sustainability Officer for San Antonio calls composting ‘gateway to sustainability, in general’

During the pandemic, KSAT has reported an increase in outdoor activities. People in San Antonio seem to be going on more walks, riding bikes on trails and greenways and seeing if they have a “green thumb” by planting a garden.

The interest in the outdoors can also be encouraging for those tasked with making the Alamo City more sustainable.

“Just that connection to nature and growing things has brought people back to their roots, perhaps in a certain way, and maybe it has engendered a greater appreciation for slowing down, taking stock of our natural world and valuing it a little more, too,” said Julia Murphy, the Deputy Chief of Sustainability Officer for San Antonio.

Murphy says there are several actions you can take right now to be more environmentally conscious.

“Try composting, if you can. Don’t throw away those fruit and vegetable peels in the trash, put them in a compost bin!” Murphy said.

The first action someone can take is recycling. Every home in San Antonio can get a blue recycling bin from the city and many of us already do our part to recycle.

The second option is to plant native species. Murphy said native plants will help foster San Antonio’s natural systems, from filtering drinking water before it goes into the aquifer to helping pollinators survive in the city.

But, Murphy says one of the easiest ways to be green is to start composting.

“Let your vegetable peels turn into soil and then return that soil to the earth. That is the best way we can start regenerating our natural systems, make our earth healthy again. It’s good for the plants in that soil and, ultimately, will help all the native species in that soil, as well,” Murphy said.

San Antonio’s Solid Waste Management Department told KSAT the Alamo City is one of the few U.S. cities to have an organics program. In 2020, the department said it composted about 70,000 tons of organic material. To order your green organics bin from the city, call (210) 207-6428 or click here.

However, if you start composting, do not buy green bags that say they are compostable from the store. Nick Galus, the assistant director for SWMD, says the green bags are not accepted in San Antonio.

There are also biodegradable bags that are green, and we don’t want biodegradable bags because they leave a chemical trace, and that’s not something we want in our compost.”

Instead, Galus says the city encourages anyone to use a paper bags. He said the bags you can get from the grocery store are some of the best options.

Murphy says there are nonprofit groups in San Antonio that help with composting, such as Compost Queens.

Below is a list of items San Antonio allows you to compost:

OK to compostDo not compost
Food WasteDiapers
Peels and coresBottle Caps (metal or plastic)
Table scrapsPlastic bags
Nuts and grainsStyrofoam
Bread, cereal and pastaCondiment packets
Food-soiled PaperPlastic utensils
Coffee filtersPet food bags
Paper cups and platesConstruction or demolition materials
Paper take-out boxesMetal and glass
Pizza boxes
Yard Trimmings
Small branches (under 3 feet)
Plants and leaves
Yard Clippings
Other Materials
Shredded paper
Popsicle sticks

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