Composting food scraps builds soil, retains carbon to promote positive environmental outcomes, and helps reduce landfill waste.
Municipalities across the nation are now encouraging citizen composting, but not everyone has the tools or know-how for getting started.
Commit to Composting
With support from Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, during the Spring of 2022 Clean Valley Council led a program called The ABCs of Composting. We distributed Earth Machine composters, pails for food scraps, luggage scales, and aerators to 40 participants, all at no cost to them.
Participants submitted weekly data tracking the weight of food waste added to their compost machines. Many participants expressed surprise at the substantial amount of material they added to their composters; one participant mentioned that diverting food and yard scraps to her composter has allowed her family to use a smaller trash can for city pickups.
Over the course of a 7-week data collection period, participants diverted to their composters more than 886.62 pounds of waste that otherwise would have been sent to the landfill. (It is worth mentioning too that much of the waste that would have been sent to the landfill would have been enclosed in plastic bags. Composting reduces our reliance on plastic bags.) Soon they will have compost suitable for enriching their gardens, and the nutrients contained in their food scraps will become integrated into the soil instead of becoming sealed into the landfill.
The ABCs of Composting program had substantial educational impact. Nearly all the participants reported that they enjoyed learning about the practice of composting and were surprised by their ability to make such a large impact given nominal effort. Two of the participating families home school their middle school aged children, and those students took the lead in their families’ composting efforts, using the composting and data collection as the basis for school projects. Some participants enjoyed reading about the chemistry of composting.
Best of all, it seems like the program participants had lots of fun, very much enjoying themselves as they were making a significant and beneficial impact on the quality of our local environment.