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Weekly Tips | March 10, 2014

(Food) Wasting Away!

Whether you've got more on your plate than you can chew, or a heap of leftovers that are past their prime, it's time to get scrappy about food waste! Having your fill of food doesn't mean you have to send food to the (land)fill - tossing out the old can make way for new ideas about how we waste away.

Food in Landfills

Do you ever wonder how much food you are throwing out each year? According to King County, nearly 30% of all residential waste that ends up in the landfill is food scraps and food soiled paper. For more information about food waste in the United States, NPR released an article about the amount of calories wasted annually.

As food decomposes in a landfill, methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is released into the atmosphere. Some landfills capture a portion of the gas, but given the amount of methane produced in a landfill, even an efficient capture system releases methane.

In King County, Cedar Hills Regional Landfill, uses a capture system to convert methane into energy, reducing overall emissions by 63%. Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted by the U.S. and contributes to the effects of climate change at a global scale.

Composting is an easy and convenient way to reduce your environmental impact and you don’t even need to have a garden to participate!

The Value of Composting

Composting organic matter, such as leaves, branches, and food scraps will produce a soil-enriching product, perfect for supporting gardens across King County. This is a natural way to improve soil quality and give your vegetables and plants a little boost in productivity.

According to the EPA, compost acts as a natural repellent to pests and disease giving the opportunity to reduce the use synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides! Compost helps soil retain moisture allowing for less water intensive gardening and can be used to help prevent erosion on hillsides, creeks, lakes, rivers.

A minute-long video created by University of Washington students demonstrates the significance of taking advantage of your curbside composting bin. Composting is a better alternative than the landfill and offers a tremendous opportunity to reduce your environmental impact.

Challenge yourself this spring when you are mowing your lawn or have apple cores, banana peels or other leftover food scraps and place those items into your food & yard waste curbside bin!

Sources: King County Food Scraps | NPR | UW student video | SPU | Cedar Hills Landfill

The Big Picture

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that 40% of the food in the US today goes uneaten; meaning that roughly $165 billion worth of food is being thrown out annually. In fact, the EPA estimates that 35 million tons of food waste goes to landfills, making food one of the largest categories of waste going to landfills.

Sources: NRDC | EPA

food waste 


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