J500 Media and the Environment

Food Waste Doesn’t Have to be Wasted by beccan

Studying food and the environment lately makes mealtime a bit different than in my past 21 years of life. My thoughts have been consumed by where my food comes from and what it does for my body. I feel like a can’t even enjoy food anymore at times, because I have been so worried about the harmful pesticides and damage that the environment has been through just so I can eat my dinner- I feel guilty. After breakfast I poured the remains of my oatmeal in the drain, turned on the faucet and pushed the disposal button to make my leftovers disappear. I do this at least once daily without even thinking about it, but for some reason this morning I started to think about where that food was going; down the drain and into the sewer system- it was not just disappearing. Nothing about this process ever seemed wrong to me until today; why waste food that has enough nutrients to support even the human body?

Leftover oatmeal as I dump it down the drain to "disappear".


My mind wandered for a while, questioning the amount of waste my roommates and I, the University of Kansas campus, the Lawrence area, the U.S., the world produces. That is when I found an article explaining that food waste and other organic waste take up almost half of the landfill space in the U.S. and release an unruly amount of methane, which is 34 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This article also explains a law that was passed in California in 2009 requiring businesses and residents to compost food scraps.

I looked further into composting to find out what exactly could be composted and what it takes to compost food waste, in residences and in businesses. This website walked me through the basics of composting. I was surprised to find that composting really is not that expensive or difficult, but for some reason I still cannot see myself composting- at least not at my own home. I think part of my reasoning is the fact that I don’t want a smelly bin or pile of waste in my yard. Yeah, I realize that my reasoning is shallow in some sense, but I’m kind of a “neat-freak”.

If I wasn’t going to compost on my own, maybe KU would. I looked at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Environmental Center to see what one of the most environmental-friendly universities is doing. CU hosts a “Scrape Your Plate Day” each year and in 2008 collected 1,760 pounds of food for compost from 5,887 people in the dining halls. That got me to thinking what KU could do to help and the answer to that is a lot. Individually, people like myself do not want to take the time and deal with the smells of composting, but a University could make a huge difference, like CU has done. 

Becca N.


4 Comments so far
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Do you think KU should just do composting once a year or more often? Do you think more often is a realistic goal? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

Thanks for the comment, Kristina!
I think that it would be more realistic for KU to begin by hosting a day of composting, like CU’s “Scrape Your Plate Day”, because it would raise awareness about the composting as well as foreshadow upcoming changes (hopefully). Also, dining halls have made changes to get rid of trays in order to reduce water waste and excess food waste, which makes me hopeful for more change; at least they are thinking about the environment. I would love to see KU compost in the future though.
Becca N.

Comment by beccan

In some ways it seems like people care less about trash disposal. I wonder what it would take to offer some sort of compost mix in the grocery store that would be like kitty litter to remove the odor. And what happened to trash compacters? No one has them anymore, and I don’t think they were replaced by anything, either.
—Jacob M.

Comment by jmuselmann

I forgot about trash compactors! I think that waste management businesses make it so easy to get rid of trash that nobody finds reason to spend the money on buying and maintaining a trash compactor, even though it would probably save money in the long-term (common theme in environmentalism). I think compactors are replaced by the simple trash can, nothing fancy. I am surprised that more people don’t have compactors though. They seem to have fallen off of the face of the earth.
Becca N.

Comment by beccan

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