Topping the Billboards at #2!

Okay. So, you recycle?
That don’t impress me much *ah ah ohh*
So, you got the trends but have you got the fix?
Don’t get me wrong. Yeah, I think you’re alright
but that won’t solve the methane in the mixed up landfill waste.
*bauw, na- nauw na-nauw*
THAT DON’T IMPRESS ME MUCH!  

Composting.

Technically, composting is recycling except in a different bin. Recycling various organic materials (food waste, yard waste, etc…) to produce nutrient rich organic soil ‘conditioner’. About 30% of your garbage should be in a compost bin- not the landfills.

First and FOREMOST (#1 hit) is to have ZERO food waste- no scraps, consume what you eat in its entirety. Remember the 1st R is REDUCE, the last is Recycle. Composting is the next best thing (#2 hit).

I love this book to reduce food scraps, too! I found mine at a Sierra store; here it is on Amazon for $18.89. Click the picture to add it to your cart. Written by Sur La Table’s national chef- he also has an A&E series

Why can’t compostable products just go in the trash and compost in a landfill?

4 cows under a shelter tied up with blue rope. A rooster standing in front of them as if speaking to a crowd. picture takin in Banjuwedang, Bali, Indonesia

The same organic materials that create great CO2 nutrient rich ‘humus’ for our soil will actually compost into climate warming methane gas in the improper atmosphere when not cared for properly. Methane is a greenhouse gas 72% more powerful than carbon dioxide. This is why it’s not good to put that waste in our landfills. Overall, composting lowers our carbon footprint.

If you don’t have a garbage disposal, you know EXACTLY what food waste I am talking about. Otherwise, think about when you go to a party with disposable plates- ALL THAT FOOD WASTE THAT GOES INTO THE TRASH. That is what should go in a separate bin to compost; including the plate*. (And I will discuss garbage disposals below, too!) *basic paper plates.

I used to think I couldn’t compost because I didn’t have a yard (apartment living), or I rented and couldn’t dig a garden… etc. None of that is necessary- although if you have a yard you can collect more compost and use it for your own direct benefits! And if you still aren’t ready… this is a Quick Read and I’ll discuss where that waste is better disposed- in the trash vs. the garbage disposal.

To simplify everything, there are MANY places where you can drop off compost; with a quick search I even found a place that will do curbside pickup. If you are in the Maryland or the DC area you can see if Compost Crew or Compost Cab is servicing your area. As you’re all aware I am in a temporary situation and do not know how long I’ll be here and thus I decided not to start a service. Instead, I drop mine off directly to Compost Crew- in Gaithersburg. In the warmer months, compost is often collected at the local Farmers Market or nearby farms. I called local farms first but they said they couldn’t take it in the winter and would be excited to in the summer.

Oh, I also didn’t need any fancy containers or anything either. I honestly just had to collect it and drop it off. If you want to get started click here- (a post where I list common compostable waste and tackle it in more detail).

Maybe you choose to only compost during certain seasons. …Or not at all, I hope you reconsider. But if you can’t cut back to 0% food waste and you won’t compost then is it better to toss this compostable waste in the trash or to put it down the garbage disposal?

Technically this is pending your local systems, so with a little research you’ll find the proper answer but here is a little guidance:

What happens to food waste that isn’t composted?

Some landfills actually collect the methane created by composting waste and it can be reused to source electricity and power. However, not all landfills do this, and if yours does NOT than this is the WORST place to throw your waste.

What goes in your garbage disposal gets into the water/plumbing where it is filtered and collects bacteria to create biosolids. 60% of these biosolids are turned into compost- the other 40% is either incinerated or thrown to landfill. If you find it is incinerated than it cuts 80% of the waste but in return uses a ton of energy.

Long story short, if your water waste is composted then GARBAGE DISPOSAL. If your water waste gets incinerated but your landfill collects methane for energy then LANDFILL. Again: 1. Biosolids 2.Methane collected 3. Incinerated

It’s your responsibility to do a little digging to figure this out;
It’s a smaller change than composting but it’s a good step!

Biodegradable is not Compostable.

Oh! One more thing, please DO NOT be fooled by terms.

Biodegradable products are not the same as Compostable products. The word biodegradable does not have a true defined standard. It essentially means it will eventually break down- it could take centuries. It’s not a legal term and is actually banned in CA. It is typically claimed on products made from chemicals and plastic. Biodegradable products actually contaminate organic bins. It pollutes water and food supplies by creating toxic residue and microplastics.

As the Environmental issues get bigger it is important to learn how to decipher companies that are Greenwashing and companies that are actually making a difference. I am going to talk more about Greenwashing in another post. (will link here). A company boasting products as ‘biodegradable’ is likely a greenwashing company.

Kaitlin

A traveler who has allowed the World to show her that extreme posing beliefs are necessary to find the sweet spot that is revolutionary. Because life is too complex; it’s a balance of black and white; we need to blend the two so we can live in the grey space of an Open Mind. Currently finding a balance in exploring the World and being sustainable everyday.

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