Filed under: Food + Health, J500 Week 7, Society + Media, Waste + Recycling | Tags: California, compost, compost law, composting, food waste, landfill, methane, scrape your plate day, university of colorado
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?
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.
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