Stop! Denver officials want your snotrag

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This trashcan is green with envy.

Darn. Darn. Darn. I just checked in with Denver Recycles and found out that my house is one block outside one of the neighborhoods eligible for the Composting Collection Pilot Program. You have no idea how low that makes me feel. What, my garbage isn't good enough? Am I being redlined here?

The city has made a smashing success of its purple-cart trash recycling program, the guts of which were examined in dispassionate detail in our 2007 feature "The Hunt for Green." Now the local wizards of waste management want to put Denver on the same eco-hipster playing field with upscale Left Coast burgs like San Francisco and L.A. by adding green carts designed to collect organic and biodegradable materials that can be turned into compost -- food scraps, grass clippings, soiled paper and even funkier stuff. Up to 3,000 Denverites can sign up for the pilot program, but only if you live on the right block.

Will Denver take to composting with the same zeal as the tree-huggers of Northern California? The pilot program should give us some idea, but sorting out organic waste is a bit more complicated (and smellier) than it sounds. Paper plates and cups are okay, but not Styrofoam. No diapers, kitty litter or used toilet paper (ewwww), but used Kleenex and paper towels are encouraged. No plastic, metal, rocks or lumber. Grass and leaves yes, sod no. Dryer lint, human hair, pork chop bones -- all just dandy.

The hardy pilot program participants are also expected to keep their green carts from stinking up the neighborhood. How, you ask? Denver Recycles recommends freezing your table scraps and dumping them right before pickup; powdering your cart with baking soda once in a while; and keeping that pest-resistant lid closed tight. Good fences might make good neighbors, but bad composting can change all that in a hurry. -- Alan Prendergast

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