I realize I am speaking with an eco-savvy group here. Nonetheless, I wanted to share a few astonishing facts that inspire me (and I hope you, too) to urgent
New Yorkers throw out 32 million pounds of household garbage per day. That’s just residential (less than 25% of the total), and that does not include personal trash generated outside the home, or “liquid waste” (kitchen and bathroom waste) generated inside the home.
The New York Times recently reported that Americans throw out 40% of the food they purchase. NYC sends its garbage to places as far away as Ohio . Landfills are the biggest mountains on the East Coast, visible from outer space.
Issues of this magnitude can be overwhelming, even paralyzing. I find it helpful to remember that, individually, we don’t have to solve the whole problem, but we do need to do our share. Thankfully, there are many people approaching these issues creatively and effectively.
Compost is not the only solution to the issues challenging us today. Nonetheless, it is one very important way in which we can be part of a solution. To help raise awareness, I wrote a children’s book about composting, “The Compost Heroes,” in which forest animals join forces to “rescue the garbage” from an encroaching landfill and turn it into compost. Visit the events page on our website for a sampling of successful outreach programs featuring The Compost Heroes).
By composting and recycling, you can reduce your household trash by up to 80%.
In addition to all the ecological benefits, a simple reduction in the amount of trash going to landfills effects a corresponding savings in all the associated costs of transporting, storing and maintaining waste in landfills. Despite the many benefits, ecological action is patchy at best: some cities (notably San Francisco) have enacted laws requiring compost collection, while other cities do not even require recycling.
Further, there are obvious environmental benefits of releasing the latent energy in compostable “trash” to be used as a soil amendment. As a soil amendment, compost can’t be beat: it aids in water retention, improves soil nutrients available for plants, and even enhances root growth by allowing plant roots to
utilize the burrows created by compost-consuming invertebrates.
Instead of preaching to the converted here, let me just avow that, once you start composting, you will never look at a banana peel in the same way. For those who wish to start composting indoors using a worm bin (vermi-composting), I want to invite you all to join me as we embark on this adventure together. My blog documents my transition from worm-phobic to worm-keeper, and shares how-to information along the way. I hope you will visit the blog and use it as a forum for sharing your thoughts and experiences in composting.