Food scraps are one of those things I had never paid attention before until we set up a compost bin at home. Once we started collecting them in the kitchen, instead of sending them to the rubbish bin, I became aware of the amount of food scraps we were producing on a weekly basis, what we were sending there (and why) and also how significant the reduction of rubbish was once we left them out of the equation.
Today, I understand food scraps don’t belong to landfill. First, because they are a valuable resource and second, because once they are sent to landfill, even when they are organic material, they contribute to global warming.
For that reason, today I’ve decided to write about organic scraps and explore some options to consider instead of throwing them in the rubbish bin.
I’ll focus exclusively on food scraps instead of food waste (food that end up in landfill and it could have been eaten) mainly because that deserves one or even several exclusive posts.
A valuable resource
In the right environment, food scraps (fruits, veggies scraps, egg shells, tea) in combination with other elements quickly decompose and become nutrient-rich soil that can be used to feed plants and grow more food.
So this organic matter can be easily transformed into something useful and productive. Why do we send them to landfill? We need these resources.
According to FoodWise:
47% of the average Australian household bin is organic waste. Most of that waste can break down naturally in household compost bin.
In a planet where the demand for more resources is increasing drastically, we need to change our mindset from waste to reusability and this without a doubt is a great way to reuse these resources.
Landfill and food scraps
When food scraps are buried in landfill, they decompose in a sealed and oxygen-free environment. This process generates a greenhouse gas called methane which is more powerful than carbon dioxide and it contributes to global warming.
This type of environment also makes the decomposition process very slow, according to the documentary Wasted (which I highly recommend) a head of lettuce can take up to 25 years to decompose in a landfill, which to be honest is shocking.
Even when landfill is not the only source of methane, this adds to an already complicated issue and given that these resources can be reused in so many other ways, it simply doesn’t justify that we keep following the same path.
Process it at home
If you have some space at home, you can easily start your own compost system. Composting is not more than the natural way to recycle organic material (including food scraps) into valuable and rich soil.
We have been composting for several years (my husband is the expert, I am just the helper) and it is very rewarding. For me personally, I know that these scraps are returning to nature instead of causing pollution in the other end which is very important. Also when you see the end result of the process is quite amazing.
Traditional compost systems are big but even if you live in an apartment there are alternatives such as worm farms, bokashi bins or smaller compost systems (I’ll write more about these options in future posts)
Check with your council, these days there are many incentives to get more people into composting. Here in Australia, many offer big discounts to buy compost bins and some provide kitchen caddies to collect food scraps.
Donate your food scraps
Even when the word “donation” may sound weird in this context, as described above food scraps are very valuable and many people/organisations are keen to add them to their compost systems and reap the benefits.
These are some of the places/options you can use to donate your food scraps:
I love this online initiative, they basically offer a platform where you can find a place nearby to donate your food scraps instead of sending them to landfill. It is quite simple, they have a map, you enter your location and it will show you what’s available around you. Then you can get in contact with those users and organise the drop-off. On the other hand, if you have a compost bin at home, you can also register so that your neighbours can find you and share some food scraps.
Website => ShareWaste.com
Recycling near you
If you are in Australia, you can use this website to find out a list of places in your area where you can drop your food scraps
Website => Recyclingnearyou.com.au
I am sure many avid gardeners don’t know about tools like ShareWaste but they still do composting. If you have noticed some of your neighbours love gardening, why don’t you check if they have compost bins? If they do, maybe they could receive your food scraps on regular basis.
I’ll dare to say that all community gardens have some form of compost system in place, so there is good chance that these places are happy to receive food scraps donations. Do you have any community garden nearby?
If you get your produce from a weekly farmers market, you could donate them your food scraps. Talk to the farmers, I am sure the majority use composting in their farms and again some will be happy to take your scraps.
These days some councils receive food waste as part of their green waste collection service. For instance, here in Victoria, Glen Eira residents can now recycle their food scraps using the council services. It seems in USA there are also many councils getting on board. Check with your council, and if the answer is no, it is something to keep an eye on.
In some cities there are private companies that are trying to address food waste going to the landfill by collecting your food scraps. I have seen several of these initiatives in cities all around the world (North America, Europe and also here in Australia). For instance if you are reading from Perth, Australia, there is a company called Kooda and they do exactly that for individuals and other companies.
In this journey trying to live a more sustainable life, I have become aware of the fact that everything in nature works as a cycle, nothing gets wasted and it is amazing because we are part of it. So, it is time we get back to basics and take advantage of our resources. There are always opportunities to make a difference.
“Everything you buy comes with its own set of responsibility – and food is not exception” – Rhonda Hazel
This is all for this week, I hope you have found some useful information. If so please share with your family and friends. I’d love to hear from you, do you already compost? or are you planning to explore some of the options in the article to stop sending food to landfill? Please let me know in the comments below.
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