Food waste isn’t trash: Start an at-home compost bin.
It’s no secret that waste is a huge and growing problem: Globally, almost one third of all food is wasted, and Americans are some of the worst offenders. Per year, Americans generate about 254 million tons of trash, much of this from food. But all food scraps – including food-soiled paper – can be composted. Today’s #DailyRevolution is to clean up our trash; let’s get composting!
Maybe you live in a city that’s rolling out curbside organic waste collection, maybe you start a pile in your backyard, or maybe you have to freeze your food scraps and haul the frozen brick to your local farmer’s market for disposal (it’s a thing). Today we explore different options for in-home composting. No home is too small!
Thanks to convenient curbside trash removal, most Americans are oblivious to the magnitude of our waste problem. You toss it in the bin, a truck picks it up once a week, and that’s it. Many of us haven’t ever seen one of the 2,000 active landfills in the country IRL.
And if the quantity of waste wasn’t enough of a problem, the quality of the waste poses its own set of issues. When organic waste like food starts breaking down, it creates methane, which happens to be 23 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. And with organic materials making up more than 50% of municipal solid waste (and food stuffs comprising more than half of that), landfills are a serious global warming problem. In 2014, 136 million tons of trash were sent to landfills. That same year only 1.9 million tons of food waste were composted.
Before you get all down in the dumps on us, composting is an easy way to dramatically reduce your garbage footprint. Composting is nature’s recycling: It’s the process of breaking down organic materials (food scraps, paper materials, egg shells, coffee grounds) into soil. Some cities like NYC are even implementing organic “digester eggs” that take this natural waste and use the methane it emits for good: salvaging it as fuel and adding it back into the municipal gas system.
OK – so how do I compost?
Search City Options - Do a quick Google search to see what composting options there are in your city. Some cities like NYC have curbside pickup, but if yours doesn’t there are lots of other options: Check out your local farmers markets or food co-ops to see if you can drop off. Or look into compost clubs that will pick up your scraps weekly. And if you have a yard, or large container garden, consider in-kitchen worm composting, or backyard composting to create and use your own rich soil.
Bonus Action - If there isn’t already a program in your hometown, contact your local government representatives and urge them to develop one. In 2013, there were 3,560 community compost programs documented by the EPA, and that number is growing. Be an advocate for composting in your community!
OK, but seriously, HOW do I compost?
You may be able to request a compost bin from your local sanitation department that sits outside with your trash bins, or it can be as simple as plopping an empty container under your sink or in your freezer to start tossing your food scraps into.
Check out these great resources for composting support: