Earth Matter Builds Community Around Composting

by Sycamore May

Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: Earth Matter NY Inc.

What They Do: Earth Matter NY Inc. is committed to advancing the art, science, and practical application of composting within and around New York City. At the heart of their mission is the reuse and processing of food waste generated by NYC residents, a collaborative effort facilitated through a meaningful partnership with the Department of Sanitation’s NYC Compost Project and many other community partners.

How They Do It: In partnership with The Trust for Governors Island, Earth Matter NY Inc. processes all landscape waste and food waste generated by businesses located on and visitors to the Island. Through this crucial initiative, Earth Matter NY actively contributes to the sustainable management of organic materials, fostering environmental stewardship and community engagement in NYC. They also process neighborhood food scraps dropped off at GrowNYC farmers markets. This endeavor is supported by DSNY’s Compost Project.

Mission: To reduce the organic waste misdirected into the garbage stream by encouraging neighborhood participation and leadership in composting.

Latest Project/Campaign: Earth Matter NY and The Trust for Governors Island have forged an alliance to createZero Waste Island (ZWI) by reducing the island’s waste export to absolute zero. Under this initiative, 100 percent of organic waste, including food vendor serviceware, kitchen scraps, and landscaping cleanup waste, undergoes meticulous processing at Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center. The resulting fertile compost not only contributes to the island’s sustainability but also enriches the soil across New York City. ZWI’s commitment extends to all Governors Island vendors and tenants, mandating the use of compostable serviceware, waste reduction practices, and sourcing from sustainable resources. This holistic approach has significantly diminished the volume of waste requiring off-island transportation. 

In a remarkable stride toward sustainability, Earth Matter’s Compostable Serviceware Supply, established with support from New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I), further bolsters the ZWI initiative, providing a model for eliminating plastic and non-compostable serviceware. The Compostable Serviceware Buyers’ Co-op Guide offers insights for replicating this success, inviting communities to join the movement towards a waste-free future. 

In 2023, The Trust, along with their Climate Study Center partner, Stony Brook University, formed  a new non profit called The Exchange, which works with Earth Matter NY and 51 other community organizations  and academic institutions to   explore community and scholarly research and training for climate change mitigation.

Also in collaboration with The Trust for Governors Island, Earth Matter NY Inc,  provides essential training and educational resources for New Yorkers.  Island partners and visitors have access to the Compost Learning Center, fostering a community-wide commitment to circular material management. 

Major Funding: NYC Compost Project, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc. Blackstone, Patagonia, NYC Parks GreenThumb, Sustainable Generation, New York City Council, BioBag, Manhattan Borough President’s office  ConEdison, New York CaresLower Manhattan Cultural Council , NYU Langone Health, Hamilton Madison House,  and others.

Profit/Nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $832,000

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: At the Compost Learning Center, located on Governors Island, Earth Matter NY Inc  provides visitors, volunteers, and students with innovative methods for creating and utilizing compost throughout New York City. This living laboratory hosts a diverse array of projects united by a common goal: to build a closed-loop system. Here, the transformative journey from food scraps to compost becomes an experiential lesson in zero waste.


Location: 179 Rivington Street, #4A New York, NY 10002

Number of Staff: 10

Number of Volunteers: 1200

Areas Served: NYC

Year Started: 2009

Co-Founders: Marisa DeDominicis, Charlie Bayrer and Kendall Morrison

Contact Information: 


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