As of July 1st, the State of Vermont has become one of the first to officially ban using trash bins for the disposal of food waste. This momentous step forward signals an important call-to-action for every other state in the country. Composting, as we have mentioned in prior posts, has been primarily practiced and spread by sustainability enthusiasts up to this point. Finally, the movement has government support. For Vermont, this support comes in the form of not only passing an important law, but a website called www.scrapfoodwaste.org. This is where they provide residents with updates and advice on various sustainable practices. These include subjects such as how to not purchase groceries in excess, so that food is not wasted. Or ways to carefully plan how to use leftovers so that your remaining material is organic, and can only be composted.
What does this mean?
This means that now is the time to push further down on the accelerator, and to not allow these government entities to become complacent after bringing this law into fruition. To do so, advocates of this movement need to be sure that two forces are constantly at work. The first is to know the facts, and that is what this article is really for. The facts are on our side, composting needs to be a part of our daily lives, and below are the reasons why. We hope that our readers can use the information below to fuel their contributions, to get their state or township to follow in the steps of Vermont.
Before you roll your eyes and mumble “obviously”, I want to start by saying that you’re right, and I am so glad that you are. Landfills should be an obvious problem for a modern society like ours. Nevertheless, the EPA estimates that 25% of garbage in the US is made up of yard trimmings and food scraps. That equates to about 60 million tons of waste sent to landfills per year!
Furthermore, UW Research Associate Professor, Sally Brown, asserts that ”you should definitely pay attention to where you put your food waste, and you should feel good you live in a place where compost is an option”. The reason for this is because food waste generates a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions, a topic that will be explored further in our next section. However, when it is composted instead of thrown away, the food waste is effectively diverted from the landfill stream entirely. This results in what is officially referred to as “carbon credit”, something that gives municipalities a large incentive to practice composting according to Professor Brown.
Brown’s study, which appears in the January 2016 issue of Compost Science & Utilization, analyzes new changes to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency model that helps solid waste planners estimate greenhouse gas emission reductions. This is accomplished based on whether materials are composted, recycled, burned or thrown away. The study found that 95% of food scraps are still thrown away in the US, which means they are thrown into landfills. There is clearly a lot of room for improvement.
So to all of our composting warriors, never forget that percentage. To all of our curious readers, welcome to the community.
So look, maybe you are not aware of how harmful landfills are, and that’s okay. However, maybe you have heard of Carbon Dioxide emissions? The Greenhouse Gas effect? The damage to our Ozone Layer? Climate Change?
I’m sure one, if not all, of those phrases ring a bell. The real common thread between them is the fact that mass composting could solve all of those issues, or at least significantly limit them. When food waste is piled up in landfills, the vital oxygen needed to facilitate the decaying process is not available. This results in a counter effect, which finds the waste releasing toxic greenhouse gases that contribute to the decay of our ozone layer, thus causing climate change and a number of other issues for our planet.
Fossil Fuel Dependency
Gardening is a common, widespread hobby practiced by individuals around the world. However, many gardeners use store-bought compost for their needs. Nevertheless, composting expert John Cossham would suggest that, “Home Compost is always superior”, and here is why.
When considering commercial methods used to produce store bought compost, one must consider the oil-reliant machinery and sped-up oxidation process that companies apply to break down material quickly. While it achieves results, It is inherently counterproductive if sustainability is truly the goal of composting. By using the slower and more traditional method of home composting, as opposed to buying compost in stores, the user is rewarded with a product that has been broken down and cured properly. Gardening enthusiasts deserve to know that they are feeding their soil the right way!
The Life Cycle, In Your Backyard
We live in a world where so many causes are worth fighting for, and It makes us feel helpless at times. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish I could make more of a difference, but I just don’t know how”?
Composting is a chance to really do your part in a cause that nobody can deny. Vermont is the first state to show that it can be done on a massive scale, if we the people want to get it done. I mentioned at the beginning of this article that there are two forces that we, as the composting movement, need to continue driving. The first was the facts, the second is our commitment to the cause. By composting, you can effectively eat, dispose of, and regrow your fruits and vegetables with the same material. Now I understand this is an ideal scenario, but the only way to attain such a lifestyle is to take the first step. Then, encourage others to take that step, while you take the second. If you want to know what that second step is, stay tuned to the EcoRich Way.