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Composting: an effective strategy to reduce food waste

Lenka Dzurendova Unsplash

 

Over the course of the holidays, approximately 40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted. Numerically, that adds up to about 293 million dollars just thrown away. Food waste typically gets thrown into the trash, where it ultimately ends up taking up space in a landfill. Without light or oxygen in the landfill, food waste cannot decompose properly and ends up releasing methane.

Food scraps and yard waste make up about a third of what we throw away. Composting those things instead of adding them to the trash reduces waste and greenhouse gas emissions. So what can go into compost? Anthony Whaley, the Co-Founder of Compost Cache Valley, explains that in here the valley, yard waste can be taken to the facility next to the landfill,

“They have a tree and other large organic waste drop. And then they also  take all of your leaves and all of the green bins go to that composting site," Whaley says.

For food scraps, Whaley’s company offers a curbside composting subscription where customers are given a bin to put kitchen scraps into. He notes, “So that's all, like fruit waste, fruits and  veggies, tea and coffee. We can also take any veggie peels in the brown cardboard or brown paper products.”

 

Materials from the bins are used to help create compost. Whaley continues, “We collect all that material, what you just call kitchen waste scraps. And we mix that with a certain ratio of brown material, which would be like leaves, cardboard or other like brown paper household products. And if you get that in the right ratio, with the right amount of oxygen and the right amount of water, then you can turn all of that material into a soil amendment that we call compost.”

This compost can be used in garden and flower beds, or even turf grass. He also explains that compost is often incorrectly thought of as dirty or smelly. “If you do it correctly meaning that you get that ratio of green material to brown material to oxygen water, correct, then there's really low odor. It composts pretty quickly in a matter of weeks instead of months,” Whaley says.

The EPA reports that composting has increased by 65% in the last five years, and Whaley hopes to see other areas implementing composting services to help reduce food waste.

 

Ellis Juhlin is a science reporter here at Utah Public Radio and a Master's Student at Utah State. She studies Ferruginous Hawk nestlings and the factors that influence their health. She loves our natural world and being part of wildlife research. Now, getting to communicate that kind of research to the UPR listeners through this position makes her love what she does even more. In her free time, you can find her outside on a trail with her partner Matt and her goofy pups Dodger and Finley. They love living in a place where there are year-round adventures to be had!