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By Shannon Lambie

This weekend we saw the first frost in some parts of North Vancouver, and this got me thinking about how the colder temperatures may affect my backyard compost. Well, it turns out that composting in the winter is completely feasible; the process just slows down a little and requires a bit of planning! Stephanie Davies, author of Composting Inside and Out: The comprehensive guide to reusing trash, saving money and enjoying the benefits of organic gardening explains that continually adding to your compost over the winter season is important. This will ensure that your compost stays active and your microorganisms don’t die, meaning that your compost will be in great shape come spring.

Of course your supply of kitchen scraps will remain constant, but as the winter season goes on, your supply of yard clipping, leaves, or grass may dwindle. Davies recommends stockpiling a few extra bags of leaves in the fall to make up for the coming shortage. She also adds that in temperate rainy climates (like Vancouver!) adding dry leaves will help absorb the excess moisture.  Another helpful tip she includes is to cut your kitchen scraps into smaller pieces. This increases their surface area, which means they will break down faster.

If you begin to find that your supply of kitchen waste is outpacing your compost, there are options! Here on the North Shore we are now welcome to include our food scraps in with our yard trimmings in the ‘Green Can’ which gets collected on garbage day. Contact the North Shore Recycling Program for bin labels, I did, and they were sent to me a week later in the mail! Click here to access the bin label request page.

The North Shore Recycling Program webpage ( also presses that it is important for everyone to participate in the Green Can program as soon food scraps will be banned from the landfill by Metro Vancouver.

Beyond the Green Can program, you also have the option of bringing your scraps to ‘Food Scrap Drop Spots’. This initiative, born out of the Vancouver Farmer’s Market, enables people to drop their scraps off at The Winter Market at Nat Bailey Stadium every Saturday. This is great because now you can drop off your food scraps and pick up local produce all in one stop! Check out their website for further information and alternative drop locations (

Finally, if all of this seems a little overwhelming, or somewhat confusing, call a compost coach! Here on the North Shore we have the wonderful opportunity to receive free private compost coaching! Appointments last between 20-50 minutes, and can be made easily online at this address:

Compost coaches will come to you, and are available to help you set up or install your compost, answer questions, give advice, and trouble shoot problems. Groups are welcome, and this service is available to all residents of the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, and the District of West Vancouver.

North Shore Recycling program states that the average single family home on the north shore produces up to 500 kg of compostable waste each year.  By continually composting all year long you will be able to capture more of this waste and transform it into valuable organic compost! You will also be helping the environment by keeping more waste out of landfills. The North Shore Recycling Program estimates that 9,000 tonnes of organic waste has already been diverted from landfills thanks to the efforts of North Shore composters! However, 25% of the weekly garbage pickup remains compostable, so there is room for improvement. Hopefully the information included in this post will help us move towards 0% compostable waste in our weekly garbage pick up!

Happy Composting!