Cooking Light editors are counting down to Earth Day with simple and effective ways they’ve eliminated waste and cut back on resource usage. In this series, each editor will talk about One Green Thing they’ve done in their own home, office, or general life to hopefully make our planet just a little bit healthier.
In an ideal world, I would make stock every week, saving up my food scraps until I have enough to flavor a pot of bones and water. In my real world, I make stock maybe once a month. And I hate to see those food scraps go in the garbage.
Why? Because food waste is a real issue—one that affects people's budgets and their outlook toward purchasing fresh food, as well as our environment. See, food scraps that end up in landfills create methane, a greenhouse gas known to have a negative impact on our climate. (This has to do with the common landfill practice of burying waste, where no oxygen gets to it.) But when you compost, the waste breaks down differently because it's exposed to oxygen, plus worms and other creatures; it creates CO2 instead of methane. Every effort to reduce greenhouse gases can help, even my countertop compost bowl.
I dabble in some gardening, so my compost pile goes to work to enrich the soil that feeds my tomato plants and my lettuces, helping me steer clear of chemical fertilizers. It's a win-win situation for me, and for the turtles we sometimes find snacking in the compost pile. And I'm glad that my kids are growing up with this as part of their routine: We put our organic waste in the bucket, and they dump it several times a week on the pile as part of their chores. They see that the food scraps break down and go into the garden; that is our rhythm, our cycle.
If you don't have a backyard garden for your compost, that's ok—you can still take part. Some cities have roadside compost pickup (like trash and recycling pickup), and many farmers' markets have compost drop-off sites. For more information on composting, including tips for doing your own backyard composting, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's page on composting.
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