Friday, December 14, 2012

Food Waste

Food makes up about twenty-one percent – which is the largest percentage – of waste going into municipal landfills and combusted for energy recovery, according to data from the 2011 Municipal Solid Waste Characterization Report.   About 33 million tons of food waste reach landfills each year in the United States.   Putting food waste in your garbage and sending it to a landfill leads to more methane gas production at the site as the food waste rots.   There are many resources related to producing the food and those are ultimately wasted as the food is discarded.   To reduce food waste from your daily meals going into a landfill you can plan ahead and only buy what you will be eating.  Produce has a limited life. Items in your freezer also have a limited life.  When fruits and vegetables rot or bread goes moldy a way to handle it is to use a compost bin in your yard.  Even in the winter, taking the food to the compost bin need not be difficult.  A variety of bins are available to place in your yard.  Small covered bins are a simple covered bucket in your kitchen can reduce your trips to the outdoor location.  Links are provided below on tips on what can be composted.   Banana peels, orange rinds don’t need to go to landfill.  Over the years you will be making rich compost for your garden.   Perhaps toward the end of the year as you reflect over the year’s happenings and set goals for the new year you could create a journal of food wasted in your home.  Becoming more aware about how much is wasted can play a role in reducing the amount of waste produced.  Then, work toward planning ahead – go ahead and eat the veggies shortly after purchasing them.  Add a compost bin to your holiday wish list and get set to start the new year with reducing your contributions of wasted food to the local landfill.

Perhaps worms are in your future.  You can try vermiculture.  In our area, Ellen Sandbeck is a great authority on this and sells books, bins and the worms to help you get started.  She has been working with the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth managing a 100 foot long worm bin, processing approximately 4,000 pounds of food waste per month.    How many pounds of waste could you keep out of the local landfill by either composting or composting with worms?  It’s all up to you.

-Written by Wendy Grethen

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