The Dirt on Compost

Follow the tale of two apple cores, or skip to the bottom for a summary on composting in Ann Arbor.


Once upon a busy semester, in the land of U of M, there were two students. Both loved apples, and one afternoon they bought fresh, juicy apples from the Farmers Market. The first student, after enjoying his apple, tossed his core in the trash. The apple core sat in a pile of wrappers, crumpled napkins, and other rubbish until it was carted off to the landfill. Because the apple core was packed in on all sides by trash, it didn’t have enough air to decompose. For a long time, it just sat, gasping for air, as trash piled up higher and higher above it. Eventually, it had no choice but to decompose anaerobically and in the process release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

His friend, however, believed in a better future for his apple core. He had once heard that Ann Arbor provides curbside pick up of compost.  When he called the city’s customer service at 734.794.​6320, he learned he could purchase a compost cart for $25 from the City Hall Customer Service Center, 301 E. Huron Street.

When he returned home, he put the cart outside and found a bucket to collect compost in his kitchen. Along with the apple core, he threw in his vegetable scraps, fruit scraps, plate scrapings (including meat and dairy), coffee grounds, and yard waste materials.  He even put in some compostable packaging after carefully checking that the container was truly compostable.

On the day of curbside pick-up, he placed the compost cart alongside his recycling and trash carts on the street. The little apple core and the rest of the compost were picked-up and taken to the WeCareOrganics compost facility in Ann Arbor. With the facility’s industrial windrow technology, the apple core received plenty of oxygen to quickly decompose, joining other materials to create nutrient-rich soil. This soil helped gardeners all around town, and some of it even went to the Campus Farm to help students grow delicious produce for their peers!


  • Purchase a compost cart for $25 from the City Hall Customer Service Center (301 E. Huron Street) or call 734.794.​6320.

  • Compost fruit and vegetable scraps, table scrapings (including meat and dairy), coffee grounds, compostable packaging, and yard waste.

  • Place your compost cart with your trash and recycling for weekly curbside pick-up.

  • If you live in an apartment, ask your property manager about composting options.

  • Have more questions? Visit Ann Arbor’s compost webpage.


-Contributed by Planet Blue