May 29 is Learn About Composting Day. It’s an important environmental holiday, as landfills are the second-biggest source of climate change after all of the cars, buses, and trucks that are on the road. We could make a huge difference in the health of our planet if we all kept our food waste out of landfills, and composting is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this.
There are some scary and eye-opening statistics about how much food we waste on a daily basis. In the U.S., 30 to 40 percent of the food supply is wasted. This is equal to more than 20 pounds of food per person each month. While 20 pounds of food waste per person per month doesn’t seem like such a big figure, it escalates quickly as you multiply it by three hundred million (the population of the United States of America).
Composting is a clear solution to all this waste, so why aren’t we all composting our food waste? Let’s take a look at the top seven excuses for why we don’t compost and how we can overcome them.
Excuse 1: Capturing my food waste at home will attract flies.
Keeping your food waste in a paper bag and then putting it in your refrigerator will prevent your food waste from rotting and will keep flies away.
Excuse 2: I don’t have time to compost.
Capturing your food waste literally takes 30 seconds at each meal, all your need to do is keep a paper or even a plastic bag in your refrigerator and scrape your food scraps into it when you are done eating and then put the bag in the refrigerator.
Excuse 3: My family won’t want to do this.
If you are concerned about your children capturing their food waste, there is nothing to worry about. Children are eager to do something that is good for the planet. By explaining to them that compost is added back to the soil to help our plants grow and help our food be healthy, children will jump on board and lead the way for the rest of the family. As parents, the key is to capture your food waste and then your children will follow.
Excuse 4: I’m not sure how to compost.
Arm yourself with some knowledge. All fruit and vegetable scraps, shells, pits and seeds, paper products, seeds, bread, legumes, stems, rice, pasta, eggshells, and grains can be composted whether or not these items have been cooked or are raw. Most composting services cannot take meat, seafood or dairy products, as they can attract rodents to the compost pile.
Excuse 5: I don’t have a backyard.
This is fine. You don’t need to have your own compost bin as most farmer’s markets collect food scraps, as well as many Whole Foods Market locations. If you are unsure of where to drop off your food scraps call your local councilman or politician and ask them where you can drop off your food scraps and they will be glad to steer you in the right direction. Some cities and towns offer compost pick-up, too.
Excuse 6: I don’t eat at home very often.
If you do eat out a lot, you probably still use paper products at home, such as napkins and paper towels. Keeping these items away from landfill makes a huge difference, as paper waste in landfills is the largest contributor of methane gas of all items that are in the landfill.
Excuse 7: Why should I bother, it won’t make a difference anyway.
You are the difference! Yes, your efforts may not seem like much, but as in any other area of life, small actions lead to big rewards. It’s all about the cumulative effects. By collecting small amounts of food waste you are being a leader and you may inspire others to do the same.
As human beings, we are responsible for the damage that has been done to this planet. Although this news is sobering, the good news is that we have the power to reverse the damage. Capturing your food scraps and keeping food waste out of landfills is one easy step we can take to eliminate billions of pounds of CO2 from the environment. Billions is a huge number, so let’s all start a new habit this Learn About Composting Day.
Photo by Flickr user Stacy.
Michael Forman is a native of Bronx, New York, and has lived in New York City for almost his entire life. He is the executive farm director of Pure Love Organic Farms, an organic, urban farm that he and three other friends created in 2012 from a former garbage dump site. Michael also works as the North American account manager for Totally Green in the sustainable technologies field.