Category Archives: Composting

Why Doesn’t Your City Have Curbside Composting?

nearly 100 cities now have curbside composting.

But Waste Management, which makes money off hauling and dumping our waste, sees this as a threat to its business model. And it’s quite a bit of money. Waste Management’s revenues for just the second quarter of 2012 was $3.46 billion. "Their business model is based on controlling the landfills and ensuring that a lot of materials go there," Peter Anderson, executive director of the Center for a Competitive Waste Industry, told Earth Island Journal.

Are There Toxins in Your Compost?

Well, this is a bit scary when you consider the compost is going into organic gardens…

As thousands of cities have begun composting yard waste and hundreds more begin collecting food scraps on a large scale, new questions are emerging about what kinds of things make their way into compost and whether any of them pose a threat to humans and the environment. Federal laws do not require compost to be screened for contaminants, of which plastic and glass are only the most visible. Random tests of compost used in organic agriculture have occasionally turned up elevated levels of lead and traces of pesticides. Last month, the US Composting Council, the industry’s trade group, warned its members to watch out for grass clippings laced with Imprelis, a new weed killer from DuPont that does not easily break down in compost piles.

Composting and Other Ways to Reducing Food Waste

How much food do you think your family throws away each year?

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans threw away more than 34 million tons of food in 2010. That is absolutely appalling. Food waste is the largest component of municipal solid waste. FOOD! Not paper (that was second) or plastic (disposable water bottles drive me crazy!), but food. You know, the stuff we pay to eat and then complain about how expensive it is.  At the very least we can put it into the compost barrels.

Want to know how you can reduce the amount of food you toss? Here are some helpful suggestions:

  1. Buy less. This is hard for me, especially at the farmer’s market, but I’m getting a lot better. I’ve found that I really didn’t understand how many carrots or tomatoes or heads of lettuce we REALLY needed in a week. Putting our family on a budget along with buying more organic produce makes me very conscious of how much we really eat. Also supporting a local CSA helps because you get a set share every week and it helps introduce you to new and interesting vegetables.  And of course, never
  2. Compost your kitchen scraps. We have two compost systems in our back yard and we probably need another rotating bin. If you have just a bit of space, you can turn your produce scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, corn husks and even some paper into rich garden compost. We have been amazed at how empty our garbage bin is when we take it to the curb each week.
  3. Eat your leftovers. I know, I know. Leftovers can be boring. But, with a little planning what’s made tonight can become tomorrow’s take to work lunch (Which saves more!).  And sometimes the leftovers from one meal can be rolled into the next.  Think spaghetti one night with a little extra pasta and fried spaghetti the next night, or beans one night and bean soup the next.
  4. Freeze extra produce. Did you know you can freeze most produce whole? If you freeze tomatoes and peaches whole, they are easy to peel once they thaw. Beats blanching any day in my book. 
  5. Donate. Have a bunch of extra tomatoes or squash or cucumbers? Share with your neighbors! Not only will you make them extremely happy, but you’ll reduce the amount of food you’re wasting.  When tomato season comes around there’s always bags of the stuff to give away!

Ok, so with this knowledge I am re-committing our family to reduce our food waste. What about you? Do you have suggestions? Share!

Our Nation’s Capital Goes Green, Did Anyone Notice?

So at least our nation’s law makers are giving it a go….

Nancy Pelosi swept into the speakership in 2007 with an ambitious plan to reduce House energy consumption by 50 percent in 10 years. At the time, the House alone was responsible for producing 91,000 tons of greenhouse gases, an output equivalent to the emissions from 17,200 cars. Now, sugarcane plates and cornstarch cups have replaced Styrofoam and plastic in congressional cafeterias, waste is composted, and the food is often local and organic. Four hybrids have been introduced into the Capitol fleet, energy-saving vending machines have been installed, and the Capitol and House office buildings draw part of their electricity from wind power.

Well, some of them have… Senators Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), both from major coal-producing states, have blocked any effort of changing the fuel source of the Capitol Power Plant, DC’s only coal plant and a serial violator of the Clean Air Act.