Composting plays a major role in shrinking a person’s carbon footprint. Nearly half of all solid waste is organic and biodegradable, yet much of it ends up in a landfill where it decomposes and produces methane, which is up to 34 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a century. Diverting organic waste to compost is far better for the environment: the composting process converts organic material into stable soil carbon, resulting in carbon sequestration. And by avoiding the landfill, it decreases the production of methane gas. Composting could reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills and incinerators in the U.S. by at least 30 percent.
A growing number of cities, towns, and states are seeing the benefits — municipal composting programs are up 65 percent in the last six years. San Francisco has led the way, making composting the city’s waste mandatory in 2009; they have since reduced the amount of trash sent to landfills by 80 percent and compost 255,500 tons of organic material each year.
Businesses also are producing compostable solutions. Seattle grocer PCC is making all of its deli packaging compostable by 2022, including white foam trays and clear plastic clamshells. A compostable plastic wrap made from shellfish shells that is biodegradable and antimicrobial is in the works.
Composting can be done at your house or apartment, find tips on getting started here.
The following comes from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (www.ilsr.org), a national nonprofit organization working to strengthen local economies, and redirect waste into local recycling, composting, and reuse industries. It is reprinted here with permission.