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February Green Guide

presented by Missouri Organic

Taking on Food Waste: Composting every day, not just on race day

sponsorrot_image_85Last year at the 2013 Waddell and Reed Kansas City Marathon, 93% of the race-generated waste was diverted from area landfills through composting and recycling. A grand total of 3,460 pounds of compostable materials such as milk cartons, orange peels, banana peels and paper cups were taken to Missouri Organic Recycling to be composted. While only a few areas in the Midwest offer residential composting, don’t be discouraged.  You can do it yourself at home!

In 2011, the EPA estimated that Americans tossed more than 36 million tons of food waste.  At the same time, 14.9 percent of US households were food insecure and unsure of where their next meal would come from. The Food Waste Recovery Challenge is designed to encourage participants to rethink the amount of food and money that is literally thrown away.

One of the easiest and most impactful green things you can do at home to address the problem of food waste is composting your kitchen scraps. Mixed with yard waste, natural organic processes go into action to create compost. Compost is simply a mixture of decaying organic matter that when finished can be added to soil and gardens to improve soil quality.

Composting at home combined with other source reduction and prevention techniques– such as meal planning and better food storage — will not only reduce your greenhouse gas footprint, but also create a completely natural soil amendment. To create compost at home, simply collect “green wastes” and “brown wastes” in an outdoor bin or commercially available tumbler. “Green wastes” are items high in nitrogen and moisture such as kitchen scraps from vegetables, pasta and grains, coffee grounds and even grass clippings. While “brown wastes” are typically drier and carbon rich like dry leaves, straw, saw dust or even spoiled paper. The amount of time it takes to create your compost varies depending on the blend of your brown and green ingredients, temperature, oxygen, water and size of your pile. The key to creating good compost is to have fun and experiment. As long as you have all of those ingredients, compost happens!

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