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By : Ameila Young

5 min read

Many months ago I wrote a love letter to my backyard composting system as a column in this paper. I built that system myself and maintained it for 6 years. Feeding it and watching it work was a joy.

Recently I moved to a new apartment and had to leave my backyard bins behind. After years of paying nothing but love and the occasional stir-and-shovel for food waste management and soil rich as the banks of the Nile, I didn't want to shell out for a curbside pickup service. Then I remembered hearing about Project Oscar.

Project Oscar is a free, compost drop-off pilot program run by the City of Boston. Before trying it out I made sure I knew what waste I could and couldn't collect, as listed on the website. With my housemates' blessing I set up a 4 gallon, lidded bucket on our back stairs, started filling it with plant-based kitchen scraps, and waited.

This past weekend my bucket and my article deadline ranneth over. I popped the bucket in a granny cart and headed to the nearest drop-off location: 65 Faneuil St in Brighton.

The bins at 65 Faneuil St are difficult to find. There is no signage. I found some directions in a hidden corner of the Project Oscar webpage, but they were confusing.

This is how to access the bins:

- Faneuil St. is a residential area with brick apartment complexes. Right across from McKinney Playground, and in between the other street numbers where #65 should be, there is a parking lot with a trash dumpster at the far end.

- Walk all the way to the dumpster. You may feel like you are trespassing. It's ok.

- Behind the dumpster you will see a second, paved area. There are metal poles running along either side that look like they once held clotheslines.

- Turn RIGHT. At the far end you will see two compost bins. One is a green, plastic bin labeled "Black Earth." The other is a dark brown, metal bin with “City of Boston” insignias and Marty Walsh's name on the front. That's our guy.

- Lift the lid on the top of the bin and dump your compost.

My kitchen scraps were a stinky stew inside the bucket, but I had brought two doubled-up, brown paper grocery bags with me (compostable!), and I'm very glad I did. Transferring my load into paper bags made putting it in much easier. I was careful not to spill any on the asphalt, especially since people live there.

Kids in the nearby playground: "It smells like garbage right now!" Almost definitely me 😅

From what I could see, everything else in the bin was compostable and well-contained. Another person deposited their compost while I was bagging mine, and they said it seemed like a good system.

I highly recommend checking out Project Oscar and finding out for yourself.



Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #147 June 2022


Check out all the art and columns of June's Boston Compass at



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