Food waste is a bit of a problem in the United States. The NDRC states that 40% of the US’ food is wasted and 13% of our country’s waste stream is full of our left over apple cores and banana peels. What ever happened to finishing everything on your plate or no desert??
One way to help take a bite out of excess waste is by composting. Believe it or not, composting is actually pretty easy. Plus it will save you from taking out as much trash (saving you on trash bags) and stop you from spending money on soil for gardening.
I wanted to do my composting in doors because I live in a condo. I thought about vermicomposting (composting using worms) until I found an electronic composter online (naturemill.com) that heats and churns the compost. It works great and makes the compost rather quickly.
Basically there are two kinds of composting materials:
Browns – Dried tealeaves or coffee beans, brown paper bags, saw dust from untreated wood, biodegradable paper containers/plates, dried leaves and grass
Greens – Fruit skins like apple and banana peels, vegetable leftovers
Things to avoid: Meat, dairy, cooked foods, oils, a lot of citrus, fruits and vegetables containing a lot of moister (tomatoes, whole cucumbers, etc).
A good rule to follow is that the more variety the better. You will learn as you go what your compost likes and what it doesn’t. Each compost style is a little different but there are plenty of resources out there (such as: howtocompost.org) to help you on your decomposing adventure. The goal is to reduce the moister so really watch out for wet foods. You’ll know you have too much moisture if it becomes odorous. Your browns should help to absorb some of this though. My composter originally came with sawdust pellets that were great but when they ran out I switched to untreated sawdust from a woodworker I know.
If you do not feel like dedicating the time or space for a composter look into a compost co-op in your area (such as: phillycompost.com). These convenient groups will usually pick up your compostable waste and then drop off finished compost after a few weeks. Another option is to get a garbage disposal like the InSinkErator as some cities like Philadelphia are starting to compost at their water treatment facilities. This is another way to help reduce the impact that table scraps and uneatable leftovers have on landfills. Philadelphia is also offering a discount if you are purchasing a new InSinkErator (just another incentive to change your disposal habits).