How One Pug is Fighting Food Waste in NYC, One Household at a Time

In case you haven’t heard, NYC suspended the citywide curbside compost collection program due to COVID-19 related budget cuts, and New Yorkers across five boroughs are feeling its effects. Some have identified alternative ways to compost during the pandemic, and others are taking this food waste issue into their own hands (or paws, I should say).

Caren and Lou, better known by their composting spokespug Rocky, lovingly known as Astoria Pug, could not sit around knowing the implications of organic waste sitting in landfills and producing harmful greenhouse gases (GHG). With approximately 30-40% of the US food supply ending up as “waste”, they had to quickly find some kind of solution in light of the citywide compost program suspensions.

At first, they thought of community gardens, where they drop off their own food scraps, but realized this solution was shortsighted. If they only looked out for their own household’s compost, they wouldn’t be able to make a substantial environmental difference. With that aha moment, they began their investigative work to identify local farms and community gardens that could accommodate food scraps gathered within their neighborhood of Astoria, Queens. With some luck and willing partners, they were able to begin microhauling organics!

Rocky the Pug is overseeing the collection of food scraps at one of their eight stops in Astoria, Queens

As a team of two humans and one pug, Astoria Pug collected over 1 ton of food scraps in less than two months. In addition to preventing food scraps from being sent to landfill, they are also actively building a network of Astorians who care about the environment and are willing to compost, and are reaching out to public officials to emphasize the need for citywide composting programs.

Astoria Pug is just one of many activists who are passionate about the movement to #saveourcompost. If you’d like to follow their composting journey to reduce GHG emissions from landfills while lowering their carbon paw prints, find them on Instagram or Twitter. If you’d like to support their efforts and help them continue collecting food scraps in NYC, you can donate to their Venmo @AstoriaPug.

If you don’t live in Astoria but are looking for ways you can compost at home during this time, check out this post!