Making your kitchen greener is much easier than you think! Here’s how you can start composting food scraps like a pro in no time.
BY: DIANNA SINNI DILLON, RDN, LD
Most people toss their apple cores, dinner crumbs, and kale stems into the garbage can like it’s nothing. The food in your fridge or on your plate easily become trash if it is no longer worthy of a bite. Forgotten leftovers and unused portions of fruit and veggies are typically synonymous with trash.
But before you trash the papery peel of garlic and the ends of onions while you prep for your next meal, let’s consider composting.
What is composting?
Composting is an easy way to reduce, reuse, and recycle your kitchen scraps and it isn’t just the newest trend sweeping urban Brooklynites or strictly for the “crunchy granola” type. In fact, you don’t even have to have a green thumb to do it, or even have a garden!
Simply put, composting is one simple action that everyone can take towards cultivating a healthier and more sustainable environment no matter where you live.
Here are 3 quick reasons why:
1. Composting reduces your overall waste.
The most recent data from the EPA states that American’s threw away over 251 million tons of trash in 2012; 35 million tons (or 21%) of it came from food waste. This astronomical quantity went straight into landfills and incinerators, creating harmful greenhouse gases and ground water pollutants. Composting food scraps can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and prevent unnecessary amounts of waste from going to landfills. On a more personal level, composting can greatly reduce a household’s waste production by 50% – think how many less trash bags you’d have to pay for on garbage day!
2. Composting gives back to Mother Nature.
Replenishing the soil, enriching plant health, and promoting garden sustainability are some of the ways composting gives back to the Earth. Healthy soil reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, unnatural methods of soil enrichment, and toxic pesticides that are harmful to our environment, health, and food.
Healthy soil = healthy plants = healthy food.
Any eater, gardener, or air breather can appreciate that!
3. Composting is EASY!
Thankfully you don’t have to live on a farm to compost or have a big wallet. Composting can be done if you have zero green space and it is virtually cost-free! Just head over to Home Depot or World Market to pick up a hefty or kitchen-chic compost container. If you are lucky enough to have a backyard or even a community garden, you can easily create a compost pile to break down your kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich soil. Most kitchen scraps can make their way into a compost pile, but try to avoid meat, fish, overly oily foods/sauces, and dairy as they can slow down the decomposition process (and produce more stink!).
For those of you who don’t want to create compost yourself, you can still save your kitchen waste and find a local garden, farm, or city-wide location where you can bring it. Bigger cities like Seattle, Austin, and New York City now have city-wide compost programs that pick up compost on trash day. Think about it…yesterday’s meal prep scraps could be turned into locally and organically grown produce!
HEADER IMAGE: MILADA VIGEROVA
Dianna Sinni Dillon, RDN, LD is a Registered Dietitian based in Kansas City, MO with a passion for all things whole grain, green, and homegrown. She focuses on empowering and inspiring others to take charge of their wellness through simple plant-based recipes and science-powered advice.