Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Moving Toward "Zero Waste"

An article in today’s New York Times discussed the increasingly popular strategy of “zero waste,” which attempts to minimize garbage by recycling or composting whenever possible.

Some interesting facts about food waste from the story:
  • “Food waste . . . accounts for about 13 percent of total trash nationally — and much more when recyclables are factored out of the total.”
  • “When apple cores, stale bread and last week’s leftovers go to landfills, they do not return the nutrients they pulled from the soil while growing. What is more, when sealed in landfills without oxygen, organic materials release methane, a potent heat-trapping gas, as they decompose. If composted, however, the food can be broken down and returned to the earth as a nonchemical fertilizer with no methane by-product.”
  • “San Francisco and Seattle . . . have adopted plans for a shift to zero-waste practices and are collecting organic waste curbside in residential areas for composting.”
And times have changed; it’s not just food that can be composted:

“Packaging is also quickly evolving as part of the zero-waste movement. Bioplastics like the forks at Yellowstone [National Park], made from plant materials like cornstarch that mimic plastic, are used to manufacture a growing number of items that are compostable.”

Anyone compost food scraps at home?

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