Green Kitchen Tip # 5
Have you ever considered what happens to America’s food wastes? Nearly a quarter of all trash we toss in our garbage cans are kitchen scraps and yard clippings, both of which could be recycled into compost. If you include paper wastes, that adds up to nearly half of all solid wastes. Instead of being composted, a lot of those wastes end up in landfills. As they rot in landfills, they emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas thought to contribute 20 times as much to global warming as carbon dioxide. I had no idea we each made that much of an impact, in such an off-handed manner.
If you have a garden, composting is intuitive. But not everyone has the space or even an outdoor location for a traditional compost pile or bin. No worries, a young inventor by the name of Russ Cohn, has created a composting machine that is small enough to fit under your sink, and more efficient than a neglected pile out in your backyard. In his own words:
It's great to buy a hybrid car, but without composting you might as well have an invisible SUV running around your kitchen. Most people don't yet realize the staggering imipact of kitchen waste on greenhouse emissions, or how simple it is to divert so much landfill fodder to healthy and sustainable use. My goal is to make it easy, fast and painless for people to do this.
I really like the idea of his small, efficient machine, but I don’t have one yet. I keep a container on my counter for kitchen wastes to be composted, and I’ll tell you it isn’t always a pretty sight, even though I carry it out to my compost pile several times a week.
Another option for getting rid of your kitchen scraps is vermiculture (worm bins). I include worms in my compost pile (I go with the laziest method of composting), because they add what some would call “black gold” – their castings improve soil structure and microbial activity. In order to grow worms in a compost pile, just ensure you add soil and keep things moist for them(or give them an escape route into the earth).
But if you really mustn’t be bothered with recycling, the most conscientious thing you can do is get yourself a sink garbage disposal, and divert those wastes to the wastewater treatment facility. Not only will you be diverting methane production to a facility that might have the capacity to burn it for energy, but macerated kitchen wastes can aid in phosphate and other nutrient removal from the wastewater stream, which is good news for all the little fishies downstream.