Food plays a large role in all of our lives. For me, it is a source of energy and a means of entertainment, as I love cooking and experimenting with different vegetables and grains. But did you know that food makes up the largest percentage of waste going to the landfill? According to the US EPA, of the 36 million tons of food waste generated in 2012, only 5% was diverted from landfills!! This is problematic since the food disposed in the landfill breaks down to release methane, the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the US.
One solution to this problem is composting! Composting allows the organic material to naturally break down into soil. More organic material in soil has several benefits, such as increasing the soils water storage capacity, resistance to erosion, and ability to breakdown pollutants. Composting not only diverts food waste from landfills, but also improves soil health and structure!
Here at the U of R, Dining Services has established a well-orchestrated composting program. All dining facility kitchens practice pre-consumer composting, and Pura Vida, Hillside Café, and Connections Café offer compost bins for student use. In addition, Danforth Dining Hall collects post-consumer material.
Living in Freiburg, I learned a lot about composting since all residents were required to separate all organic material from the trash. While it took some time to get used to, I found that composting made cooking a lot easier and cleaner! I could just throw all of the food waste into a smaller container that we kept inside the kitchen while I was preparing my food, and then empty the container into our compost once I was done.
Want to start composting and make the planet a healthier place? Check out this list of Compostable and Non-Compostable material provided by the Community Composting Organization of Rochester!
Written by Ainslee Cunningham, class of 2014