By Elaine Simmons
Composting is nature’s way of recycling. Non-composted food waste, rotting in landfills, is a major source of methane—a greenhouse gas even more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. Happily, our county has a terrific composting program that accepts a wide range of food and food-soiled paper (see graphic on the next page). Just put all your food waste into your beige plastic kitchen caddy and transfer the contents to your green yard waste bin (not the black trash bin). You should never have to use your garbage disposal again to chew up food, since all food can now be composted.
It’s best to use a liner (compostable or paper bag) in your beige caddy. I prefer Biobags from MOM’s Organic Market and Amazon but the 3-gallon compostable bags that fit the 2 gallon size caddy are in many stores. DO NOT use plastic bags since they do not biodegrade. Silicone spatulas work great in scraping every speck of food off your plates, platters, pans, etc., but you should drain excess liquid from food scraps before placing them in the caddy. You can wash the caddy in the dishwasher or by hand.
Yes, I’m a bit OCD and like my rotting food wrapped in a tidy bundle but you don’t have to use a bag. Food waste can go directly into your green bin. But, bag or no bag, I would first place newspaper, a pizza box, and/or yard trimmings (leaves, twigs) at the bottom of the green bin as a first layer to absorb moisture to avoid food waste sticking to your bin. And, having experienced the joy of a compost bag full of decaying food breaking all over my kitchen floor during transit to the bin (compost bags are not as strong as plastic), I now carry the caddy to the green yard waste bin and lift out the bag over the bin. You can rinse your green bin with a hose and mild soap as needed.
I have never noticed any rodents in my green bin, but if you don’t want to risk it (or want to avoid odors in the summer heat), you can freeze scraps (like meat, poultry, and fish) until collection day. In the next issue of the Bulletin, we will discuss where the county sends the food waste, what happens to it, and how you can get the resulting rich compost for your yard.