Jan 27, 2017

Food Does Not Belong In The Trash



If there is one thing I'm coming to learn during this process it's that food should never go in the trash. The Duke University Center for Sustainability and Commerce says that food and yard waste account for 27% of household waste. That means over a quarter of our trash is currently headed to the landfill when there is a better option. Why shouldn't we landfill food waste? Let's find out. 

Trashing Food Implies Waste


Whether it is that extra bell pepper that went bad before you could use it, the leftovers you forgot about, or those last few goldfish crackers your kids couldn't eat. Any food product that enters your house has taken a lot of resources to grow, process, and transport it to you. By not consuming the food you are wasting those resources and nutrients. Food scraps and peelings from food preparation could also be included in food waste, but I might argue that is less "waste" and more "byproduct", however the end result of wasted resources is the same. There are some ways to minimize food waste by meal planning and eating leftovers. 2016's Zero Waste Week focused on food waste and you can read some more tips on how to reduce food waste. 

Trashed Food Goes To The Landfill


I never really thought about landfills before, but I'm starting to learn how fascinating they are. First a landfill is where all the trash goes. It generally is a big hole in the ground, covered with a lining, and then filled with trash. The whole goal of landfills is to store the trash and prevent the breakdown of products because that can cause undesirable affects including the production of leachate and gas.

What Is Leachate? 


It is the liquid from landfills. It is made from liquids present in the trash, rainwater that has percolated through the trash, or liquid made from the breakdown of items in the landfill. Leachate consists of organic matter, inorganic compounds, heavy metals, and other man-altered components, most of which you wouldn't want in the water supply. So the EPA requires linings to prevent leachate from entering the water supply and regulates how it is processed.

What About The Gases?


There are a number of gases that are released from a landfill. They can be released from volatile compounds dumped in landfill, created through chemical reactions from products in the landfill, or created from microorganisms breaking down materials. Most of the gas produced from a landfill is methane and carbon dioxide (both greenhouse gases), but other gases are possible too. The gas can be burned for heat or electricity or simply let into the environment. Landfills are the 3rd largest source of methane in the United States and the EPA is working towards capturing more of the gas produced from landfills to lower methane emissions. Food products in the trash are more readily degraded by microorganisms and thus, contribute to the production of greenhouse gases.

So what should you do with food waste and scraps?


Compost it! There are a number of different ways to compost. There is composting in your yard (I use this bin*!), using wormsindoors with Bokashi*, or maybe your city participates in industrial composting. The goal is to get those nutrients back in the ground and not just producing leachate and gas or taking up room in the landfill.

Where do you put your food?
*This is an affiliate link. See Disclosures and Privacy. 

17 comments:

  1. We use direct composting method here. Until we have our own home (we are currently renting while we look for a house), we are burying our weekly food scraps in the yard. We plan to set up a composting station once we are settled. Our goal is to get down to 1 small trash bag per week, to start.

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    1. We do lazy composting here. Basically just throw it all into a pile and let nature do it's work. Good luck!

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  2. I found this post through the Pretty Pintastic Party and I love it! I've been focusing a lot on reducing food waste this year in our own home - we are going to start composting next month and I hope to have a garden to grow some of our own food this year. I'd love to try vermicomposting. I don't have a terribly green thumb but I worry a lot about what we are doing to our planet and our resources.

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    1. Welcome! We just started our garden last spring and it's been a fun experience even if we haven't got much food from it yet. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. We are all about composting and trying to waste as little as possible. We have chickens and a hog, so that helps a lot with leftovers and food scraps. Whatever we can't feed them or they don't like goes in the compost pile. :)

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    1. Yes, chickens can be a great place to divert leftover food to.

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  4. I love this! We have a compost pile and a worm bin! Thanks for sharing on the Homesteader Hop!

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    1. Awesome, I'd love to get a worm bin!

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  5. I'm glad to see the great detail here!. Ελιές

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  6. This was new info to me. Thank you.

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  7. Super site! I am Loving it!! Will return once more, Im taking your food likewise, Thanks.
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  8. Oh I could not agree more - I can't stand the waste from the fact it is such a waste of resources right through to the environmental damage it causes. Fridge bottom soup is a favourite way of mine to use up those slightly sad looking vegetables and the great thing is it always turns out delicious but never tastes the same any time!

    Thanks for linking up to #GoingGreen and I hope to see you at the next one on March 1st 💚 (Oh and I have not abandoned WasteLessWednesday but I have been super busy on some other projects and blog linkies have had to put on the back burner for a while. Keep pinging me a reminder and I hope to be back very soon!)

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    1. I look forward to the Going Green hop and hope to see you back at the Waste Less Wednesday hop soon!

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  9. You are so right! I have a hard time in the winter with composting. I need to get with that more.

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    1. I don't have to deal with freezing (or really even cold) weather, but I imagine it's much harder in those places.

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  10. My parents' council supplies them with a slop bucket to put all cooked food waste in. My council though has a huge incinerator so only about 1.5% of all household waste goes to landfill. Still not good either way to let it get into the waste disposal system.

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    1. Absolutely, avoiding waste in the first place is best. Does your parents' council compost the waste or do they burn it too?

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