Environmental Stewardship & Continuous Improvement in Solid Waste Management
food waste

Composting: A Sustainable Solution to Food Waste

By: West Central Iowa Solid Waste Date: May 9, 2024

This week, we’re highlighting a critical issue: food waste. Did you know that a staggering 40% of food produced in America never makes it to the table? Or that we spend an average of $1500 per year on food that we end up throwing away? It’s time to rethink our approach to food consumption and waste management!

The Problem with Landfills

One of the most alarming consequences of food waste is its impact on our landfills. Currently, 35% of what ends up in landfills is rotting food trapped in plastic bags. Imagine throwing away nearly 300 pounds of food every year. It’s like buying 10 bags of groceries, only putting 6 away, and tossing the other 4 in the garbage. None of us would intentionally do that, yet it’s happening on a massive scale every day.

The Environmental Toll

But food waste isn’t just a matter of wasted resources; it’s also an environmental issue. Everything that decomposes produces liquid and gas. Organic matter, such as food, grass, leaves, trees, and brush, generates a significant amount of liquid during the decomposition process. When this organic waste is confined to a landfill, it lacks the oxygen needed for proper decomposition. Instead, it releases toxic methane gas, a potent contributor to climate change. This methane must then be pumped out of the landfill and treated, adding further strain to our already burdened waste management systems.

The Solution: Composting

So, what can we do to address this issue? The answer lies in composting. Composting is the process of breaking down organic waste into nutrient-rich soil amendments. By composting our food scraps and other organic materials, we can divert them from landfills, reduce methane emissions, and create a valuable resource for our soil.

Benefits of Composting

Composting offers a myriad of benefits, including:

  • Protecting landfill space
  • Providing nutrients for the soil, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers
  • Lowering greenhouse gas emissions from landfills
  • It’s easy! With a simple recipe, a container, sunshine, and a little water, nature does the rest.

How You Can Help

Here are a few easy ways to reduce food waste and start composting:

  • Practice meal prep and buy only what you need to minimize leftovers
  • Avoid overfilling your plate to prevent food from going to waste
  • Share meals when dining out to reduce portion sizes
  • Donate excess food to those in need
  • Feed food scraps to animals, if appropriate
  • Compost food waste instead of tossing it in the garbage

Get Started Today

Ready to make a difference? Click here to learn more about how to get started with composting. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a composting novice, there are resources available to help you on your journey to reducing food waste and creating a more sustainable future.

Let’s commit to taking action against food waste. By embracing composting and adopting mindful consumption habits, we can all play a part in building a more sustainable and resilient future for future generations. Together, we can make a difference—one compost bin at a time.