My Story: How I Started
I started collecting and composting my food scraps over 15 years ago. I didn’t start because I was thinking of the environment. Well, not exactly. I did know that I would be recycling material. I’m a gardener and I’m cheap. Composting allowed me access to an excellent soil amendment for my garden for free. (My husband tells me, in fact, I am not cheap, and he is willing to give me examples…but I digress.)
Now, in my home compost I can’t compost meat, bones or shells. My compost isn’t big enough to get hot enough to break down these materials and the bacteria they create. Also, although I love wildlife, I really don’t want to attract coyotes or foxes to my compost pile.
When we started home composting – with food scraps of banana peels, coffee grinds, apple cores, etc. — there was an unanticipated consequence. We canceled our private garbage pick-up. Once we started removing food scraps from our garbage, we just didn’t produce enough garbage for weekly pick-up. I still wasn’t composting meat scraps but, as we have two teenage boys, a dog, and a cat, meat scraps rarely made it into the garbage. Without food scraps, the garbage didn’t smell and it’s easy to take our garbage to the Transfer Station ourselves.
Food Waste Facts
I never really thought about how much food scraps we were keeping out of the trash. However, according to the EPA, in 2018, “68 percent of the wasted food we generated – or about 42.8 million tons – ended up in landfills or combustion facilities.” The EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material, making up 24 percent of landfill material and 22 percent of material sent to incinerators. So, the largest material sent to landfill is something that could easily be recycled and reused. Food in a landfill, where it decomposes without oxygen, creates methane gas, a greenhouse gas, drives climate change. Going to an incinerator is not the answer either, as food scraps are wet and harder to burn.
How You Can Make Help: Food Scrap Recycling Options
What can you do to make a difference?
- If you are comfortable with it, compost at home. It is easy, trust me, I am a very lazy composter. You may have heard of people who turn their compost pile weekly and worry about its dampness. I am not that person…yet my garden still loves it. I just make sure that I have 40% nitrogen (the food scraps) and 60% carbon (brown leaves or shredded brown paper) and I’m in business. (Email us with questions, I love to talk about compost).
- You don’t want to compost at home? Or you’re composting at home, but want somewhere to take meat scraps, bones and shells? If you have a Transfer Station pass, you can drop off your food scraps in the food scrap bins where they will be brought to an industrial composting facility (which processes everything you can eat, including meat, bones, and shells). If you need compost pails, buckets and BPI-certified compostable bags, Weed & Duryea in town began selling these items to help support New Canaan’s food scrap program. Whatever you do, don’t include plastic in your food scraps: plastic does not decompose!
Going to get produce at Walter Stewart’s Market? Stewarts switched their produce bags to BPI-certified compostable to support New Canaan’s Food Scrap program. (Thanks Walter Stewart’s.) These bags are permitted in the food scrap bins. Remember: Not all produce bags are created equal…they must say BPI-certified/compostable. In fact, if the bag has a plastic recycling symbol on it, it is plastic and is not permitted. Compostable bags are not necessary; brown paper bags may be used, as long as they don’t have a plastic liner. Notice a theme? No plastic!
Don’t have a Transfer Station pass? If you have private pick-up but still want to bring your food scraps; an annual pass is only $45. For residents without a private hauler, it is $75 for an annual pass. Here’s a link to buy a Transfer Station Pass. (Buy Transfer Station Pass).
- If you would rather have someone pick up your food scraps, that is possible too. Curbside Compost will pick up weekly and provide customers with a clean bucket each time they pick up.
Have questions about the food scrap program? Find more information here or email us. Or check Food Recycling on our web page here.
Let’s start reusing rather than wasting and help our planet at the same time.