You know that composting is something that’s good for the environment, and depending where you live, it might actually be the law. But even so, there are still a few skeptics out there who think that collecting food scraps for compost collection means turning your kitchen into a fruit-fly-infested home dump.
And this couldn’t be further from the truth! With over 40% of the garbage that’s currently being sent to the landfill coming from food waste, learning the in’s and out’s of composting couldn’t be more of a pressing matter. And seriously, once you’ve got yourself set up—it’s so, so, so easy.
What is composting?
Composting is nature’s way of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil that can be reused on parklands and in gardens. Anything that was living can eventually decompose naturally, but it needs oxygen for this to happen. Many cities have set up food scrap compost collection programs in an effort to divert waste away from the landfill and allow it to decompose into reusable material. If your city does not currently have a compost collection program set up (Vancouver does!), you can also make your own compost at home and use it to keep your garden healthy!
But first, why should you compost?
Long story short, composting is one of the easiest ways to reduce your personal environmental footprint. Right now, about 20% of Canada’s methane emissions come from landfills. To follow that, 40% of garbage being sent to the landfill is compostable. So when we compost, we allow organic waste to be transformed into something that we can use again instead of allowing it to contribute to climate change. As a bonus, regional composting also creates jobs, which helps to strengthen a green economy!
Won’t my food scraps just decompose in the landfill?
No. When organic waste ends up in the landfill, it becomes part of the mass, often buried underneath layers of trash without access to oxygen. When organic materials have to break down in these anaerobic environments, the greenhouse gas known as methane is produced. Alternatively, a compost pile undergoes aerobic decomposition, which includes access to oxygen, and produces carbon dioxide instead of methane. And while both methane and CO2 are both considered greenhouse gases, methane is roughly 30 times more potent than C02. So it’s time for everyone to, at the very least, hop on the compost train.
So what do I do?
Calgary has been a little late to the food scrap collection party, but we’re pumped that a weekly Green Cart food and yard waste collection will be starting in mid-2017. This easy and convenient program allows you to dispose of all your food and yard waste in your green bin. It will be turned into nutrient-rich compost at Calgary’s new indoor composting facility rather than go to waste in our landfills.
Here’s how you can prepare for the program:
- First, get yourself set up with a small compost bin that will live in your kitchen to collect kitchen scraps. Something with a tight fitting lid will eliminate any odours and the risk of fruit flies.
- According to the municipal website, all single-family homes will receive Green carts. Green carts and starter kits will be delivered to homes, quadrant by quadrant. Residents will receive everything they need to get started:
- Green cart – the same size as the blue cart
- Kitchen pail – to collect food scraps inside the home
- Starter supply of compostable bags – to line the kitchen pail
- Starter supply of paper yard waste bags – for extra yard waste that doesn’t fit inside the cart
- Instruction guide and collection schedule
- Make a list of things that are allowed to go in the green bin, and post it up somewhere that makes sense.
- Same thing as the garbage, find out which days your city collects yard and food scraps, and dutifully put out your green bin on collection days!
- Click here for more information about Calgary’s food scraps collection program.
Want to try making your own compost?
If you want to make your own compost, check out our post to find out how.
Let’s Not Waste
Whether you decide to get involved in your city’s food scrap collection program, a privately owned program, or you’ve decided to try your hand at backyard composting, I promise that you’ll be shocked when you realize how much organic waste you’re diverting from the landfill once you get started. From hunger relief, to the economy, global warming, the health of your and your family, and even your wallet, there are so many reasons to take a stand against food waste.
Getting yourself set up with composting is one way to raise awareness in your home, but there are a million others. Check out our Let’s Not Waste Challenge to learn more!
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