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Composting in Island County

Program Contact: Sarah Bergquist, Interim Director
(360) 639-6062 •


Posted by Sarah Bergquist

Good for the Soil and the Soul

Yard and food-waste composting is the natural process of decay of organic materials. Backyard composting simply helps the natural process that would take place whether or not we did anything! Backyard composting is helping nature do what it has always done — every organism’s waste is another organism’s food. And it’s rewarding.

Not only is it less expensive to compost yard and food waste than to haul it away as garbage, it is important to keep yard and food waste out of landfills. In covered landfills, the decay process of yard and food waste is anaerobic and produces methane gas, which can be a significant problem for lined landfills.

Download Our Composting Brochures

Here are several informative brochures on how to compost. To view and print PDF files of the brochures, click on the links. Or, e-mail your request for a copy of the brochures to Waste Wise at

     Note: animal waste is not to be flushed down toilets in Island County

Food Waste Composting

Food waste is an excellent source of nutrients for compost but must be handled with care to avoid attracting rodents. Most, but not all, food waste may be composted. Do not compost meat, greases, fats or dairy products.

The three main ways to compost food waste are:

  • Vermiculture (worm bins). Download our brochures: Worm Composting Basics and How to Build the Tilth Worm Composting Bin from plywood.
  • Home-made food waste composter. To make your own in-ground, food-waste composter, punch holes in an old metal garbage can and bury it in the ground with just the top several inches and the metal lid exposed above ground level. Download our brochure: Homemade Food Waste Digester from “Seattle Tilth”.
  • Bury food waste in the garden. Food waste also may be buried directly in the garden. It should be buried in a hole or trench covered by at least 8 – 12 inches of soil, no nearer than 100 feet of a well, water source, stream or pond.

Where to Take Yard Waste

For those not able to compost their own yard waste, several locations in Island County will accept it for a fee.  Also consider asking neighbors if they would like any.  Many are looking for dead leaves in the fall to use in their worm bins.  There is no location on either island that accepts food waste.

  • Camano. The transfer station will accept yard waste on-site for a fee.  Lenz Enterprises, a private business, will accept yard waste for a fee.  Stanwood, (360) 629-2933
  • Coupeville. The transfer station will accept yard waste on-site for a fee.
  • Langley. The water treatment plant will accept yard waste, provided that a ticket for disposal has been purchased at Langley Town Hall.  City Hall, (360) 221-4246
  • Freeland. All Whidbey Topsoil, a private business, will accept yard waste for a fee.  Freeland, (360) 331-7645
  • Oak Harbor. Mailliard Landing, a private business, also will accept yard waste for a fee.  Oak Harbor, (360) 679-8544.  F-1 Sand & Gravel, also a private business, will accept brush & land-clearing debris).  Oak Harbor, (360) 675-0718