Make a difference by composting food scraps
An apple core takes about eight weeks to decompose in a landfill, but compared with other organic items, that amount of time is quite fast. For instance, an orange peel requires six months to break down in a landfill. Why does this matter? In 2016, approximately 16.4 percent of the total methane emissions in the United States came from landfills. When food waste rots in landfills along with vast amounts of trash, it generates a greenhouse gas called methane. Methane is about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide and traps large amounts of heat in our atmosphere.
One way to reduce methane is by composting. To compost, food waste is separated from trash and decomposes with other organics while having the ability to breathe. In this setting, the bacteria can thrive and efficiently consume food scraps. By composting, rotting organics will emit mostly carbon dioxide (a less potent greenhouse gas) instead of massive amounts of methane. It contains many nutrients needed for healthy plant growth and protects plants against harmful diseases.
So, why aren’t more people composting? It may be from minimal space, inconvenience or added costs. To encourage composting, the city of Aspen has a program called SCRAPS. Residents can pick up a composting bucket with instructions from the Department of Environmental Health and Sustainability or the Pitkin County Landfill. Then citizens can drop it off at the landfill for free or pay $18 a month for a pickup service that will come to your house weekly and collect your compost. From there, your organics will transform into fertilizer at the landfill. Rather than allowing your food waste to release methane into the atmosphere, turn it into healthy soil. Make a difference and start composting!
Claire Wolfer-Jenkins and Devi Gallagher
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Aspen Middle School
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