WHAT IS COMPOSTING?
Composting is a sustainable act that cultivates and protects our environment. According to the U.S. Composting Council (USCC), composting is the "product resulting from the controlled biological decompositions of organic material that has been sanitized through the generation of heat and stabilized to the point that it is beneficial to plant growth." Simply put, composting is the process of breaking down waste and nourishing the ground once again.
In an age where we produce so many things, we also produce a lot of waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists food waste as the third largest waste stream after paper and yard waste. In 2009, about 14% of the total municipal solid waste (MSW) generated in America was food scraps. In 2008, paper comprised 31% of MSW, while yard trimmings and wood comprised 20% of MSW. The food service industry estimates that 4% to 10% of food purchases end up as kitchen waste—due to overproduction, spoilage, and expiration issues, and because of the food trimmings we throw away. Food waste is a significant loss in the American economy with an annual cost of $90 billion in the U.S. alone. In Massachusetts, college institutions, supermarkets, manufacturers, and processors make up for 77% of the 900,000 tons/yr of food wasted. In addition to this loss, joint research by the EPA and USDA states the U.S. spends about one billion dollars a year to dispose of food waste. This is a wasteful use of resources at a time when one in five American children lives in poverty.
Further, by disposing of our waste in landfills we also forego the opportunity to reuse and repurpose precious materials.
Not only does it make sense statistically, but it is our job as Christians to become better stewards of our resources. This entails attention to reducing unnecessary waste (e.g., buying fewer products and materials, reducing the amount of food that we throw away), as well as increasing our ability to reduce and recycle our waste. Composting also is making a positive and noticeable difference in our society. Reducing our food waste before it reaches the landfill can help improve sanitation, public safety and health for both our households and our communities. It helps minimize the problem of scavenging pests or unpleasant odors. And lastly, composting is cost-effective. One does not have to spend money on hauling fees to bring our waste to a landfill. Furthermore, the longevity of a landfill is lengthened when a community practices composting, which delays the construction of another landfill—a costly endeavor. There is a positive confluence of factors that can make composting another very successful example of responsible and thoughtful stewardship of God’s Creation here at Gordon College.
WHAT TO COMPOST:
Compostable materials involve a mix of green materials and brown materials. At Gordon, we already compost green materials such as leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, etc.