By Sarah Currie-Halpern, Co-Founder, Think Zero LLC
There’s a hot trend across the U.S. right now, and I’m not talking about a new diet craze or a must have fashion item, I’m talking about composting!! However, unlike many trends that come and go, composting is here to stay.
Climate Change is top of mind these days for millions of Americans as a result of dangerous weather events, regular articles about the arctic melting, and warmer winters and hotter summers. What many Americans are realizing is that one of the BEST things you can do at home and in the office to reduce your climate impact, is to separate out your food scraps and use them in some beneficial way.
Composting isn’t the only solutions for beneficially using food scraps, as seen here in the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy. For any edible food, its best to meal plan and only buy as much as you need (thereby avoiding wasting food). Once you do have leftover food, freeze it and save it for another day or donate it to hungry members of our community. Next best thing is to feed your leftover food to animals. Animals eat a lot! Saving our food scraps for them, whether it be our pet dog, or pigs at the farm, goes a long way in reducing the amount of food that has to be grown (and resources needed to grow the food) to feed animals. Another option is to send your food scraps and organic materials to an anaerobic digestion facility in your area where they are digested and the energy is recovered to power homes and businesses. After all these options, the next best thing is in deed, compositing. Ideally, we want to avoid landfilling and incinerating food and organic materials because their inherit value is wasted and they then contribute to climate change.
Many municipalities around the country, including Boulder, Denver and San Francisco, require that residents and businesses subscribe to composting, recycle, and trash collection, and must keep these materials separated when discarding them. Many large cities are currently growing composting programs, including NYC. This is good news for planet earth, and if you live in one of these jurisdictions and are not currently participating you should hurry up and do so, for many reasons.
1. When food scraps and other organic materials go to a landfill they release methane as they breakdown, scientists believe that methane has up to 85 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. However, when food scraps and organic materials are composted, or otherwise beneficially used, very little to no methane is released. In other words, composting or beneficially using food scraps in the ways mentioned above, helps reduce climate change.
2. Beneficially using your food scraps and organic materials helps improve our soils which is much needed because in many areas around the world soil has been degraded.
3. Removing food scraps from your trash helps you in many ways. It reduces the weight and odors of your trash. It will likely save you money by dramatically reducing the amount of trash you generate (you should be able to move to less trash collection or a smaller bin), which should reduce your trash bill, depending on which municipality you live in.
4. Separating food scraps into sealed bins with lids can help reduce rodents and insects. When food scraps sit in an open trash bin, or in a plastic bag, rodents and insects can easily get in and multiply. Make sure you get a solid compost bin with a lid and always use the lid to keep rodents and insects away.
Long story short, beneficially using your food scraps Is highly beneficial for humans, animals, the planet, and our bottom line.
Questions? Reach our team of experts any time with questions about composting: firstname.lastname@example.org