Back to Basics: How Composting Food Scraps Can Make a Difference

When you think about a night of meal preparation, what comes to mind? Probably a combination of chopping, sautéing, containers to store the leftovers, and the inevitable clean-up process.

Aside from all that, we’re here to talk about the endgame of your meal prep. Not to bask in the deliciousness of a new Pinterest recipe (although we do love talking about fun recipes), but to dive into the food that goes uneaten: Where does this food end up? If you’re thinking, hm… “the trash?” we’re here to offer up an environmentally-friendly alternative.

What is Composting?

We’re always looking for ways to reduce the amount of waste we create, and diverting food scraps from the trash to be composted is the most resourceful way to rid your trash of all organic materials. 

Composting is the natural process of decomposition which breaks down organic material into soil. For those who don’t have the time, energy or desire to establish an at-home composting system, but want to dispose of food in a sustainable way, food scrap collection services are the solution. 

And if you are a resident in Fairfield or Westchester County, Curbside Compost has you covered! 

Food Waste Fact:  We All Waste Food

We all end up with food we don’t eat. Even for those who are the utmost conscious of their waste, tops and end pieces of veggies often don’t make it past the chopping stage, potato skins, chicken bones, avocado rinds, squeezed lemons…there are so many fragments of our food that go unused.

Let’s take a moment to consider: what will the fate of that food be?

First, we should always consider if leftover food can be frozen, reused, or given to friends and strangers. Once this has been done, the decision to compost our remaining food scraps is a simple one, yet not one that nearly enough of us make.

The Environmental — And Financial — Benefits of Composting

The environmental benefits of composting are clear:

  • Compost improves soil quality – which is becoming increasingly important
  • Composting reduces the mass and weight of trash, which requires greenhouse gases to be transported to landfills and incinerators
  • Food rotting in the landfills produces greenhouse gasses, and diverting food scraps to be  composted reduces these emissions

And yes, you read that right: food breaks down into a rich soil additive when composted and rots into a methane-producing monster in a landfill. So why are we still sending it to landfills? Well, that’s a combination of a need for more effective waste management systems, and for more robust public education on the issue.

And the monetary incentives to compost are just as important as environmental ones. Trash fees are increasing across the country, and will continue to as garbage-to-energy plants raise their fees, the ash they produce costs more to properly dispose of, landfills reach maximum capacity and municipalities are forced to haul it further away. When taking into account the money wasted on uneaten food, Feeding America estimates that 130 billion meals are thrown away each year in America, equating to more than $408 billion.

Integrating compost into soils is the healthiest alternative to chemical fertilizers that there is. It is the original fertilizer, and creating more of it is a step towards healthier farming, and a resistance against the blight of chemicals in our foods. 

The good news is…there are many ways we can do just that.

Though the issues with our food and waste systems are deeply rooted, individual and community-oriented changes are vital to yielding positive systemic changes. 

Like the advent of public and private food scrap collection services!

Introducing Curbside Compost

In 2015, a private food scrap collection service called Curbside Compost launched in Ridgefield, Connecticut to make composting in this area easier than ever. Before Curbside Compost, throwing food in the trash appeared to be the only alternative to setting up a home composting system, which is time intensive and not always possible.

And then Curbside Compost stepped in!

They began knocking on the doors of friends and neighbors saying, “If you save your food scraps in containers and partner with us, we’ll make sure they get composted.” Seven years later, Curbside Compost services homes, restaurants, supermarkets, hospitals, schools, caterers, and anyone else who raises their hand and asks, “Hey, will you pick up our food scraps?”

How to Reduce Food Waste

The EPA published a Food Recovery Hierarchy which highlights our priorities as it relates to the reduction of wasted food. This diagram prioritizes food reduction at its source, which translates to being more cognizant of how much you’re buying in the first place… are you actually going to eat all those groceries? And once you have them, get creative with leftovers and spare ingredients. Then for whatever you have leftover, sign up for food scrap collection, and encourage friends, neighbors, and co-workers to do the same!

This can all feel a bit intimidating, but small and consistent sustainable changes really do matter! Plus, it feels good to do something good for our planet. Interested in finding a community to tackle these issues with? Follow Curbside Compost on Instagram and Facebook, and message us any time with questions, composting tips, or simply to say hello!

If you’re interested in signing up for food scrap collection, use the code Planet New Canaan to get two weeks off your first month of service.