Percentage of food thrown away in the U.S. that ends up in the landfill .
Environmental Protection Agency
Shared Challenge: If you don’t already compost, start a compost at your house, or find a local organization that collects compost. If you already compost, try to find at least one new item to add to your compost bin.
Composting is one additional way that we can prevent food waste. When food is thrown away and breaks down in the landfill, it produces methane which is a greenhouse gas 26-28 times more potent than CO2. Composting prevents the release of methane gas by keeping food out of the landfill. The composting process allows food to break down in a way that stores carbon in the soil that is produced. When the compost is ready, it can be used to enrich plants in your own garden, reducing the need for fertilizers or pesticides. Even if you don’t garden, there are often people in your community who would love to use the compost you generate.
How do I get started?
While composting might feel intimidating, you already have most of the supplies you need at home.
Basic supplies for composting:
What do I put in the compost bin?
When composting, you need to combine layers of green (carbon rich) and brown (nitrogen rich) materials so that your compost is balanced and doesn’t get smelly. Almost all organic matter can be included. This infographic categorizes items into green and brown materials. If you already compost, check out this list of 100 things to compost for ideas of items you may want to add to your compost.
Things to avoid include: meat, bones, fish and seafood, dairy, and stickers/rubber bands from produce.
For more specific tips on how to start a compost, read the article “How to Compost at Home: A Beginners Guide to DIY Fertilizer,” or check out this simplified infographic for composting basics.
Once you understand the basics, decide if you would like to compost indoors or outdoors.
What if I am unable to compost?
If you are unable to compost where you live, some communities offer food scrap pick-up services for a fee. Check to see if compost pickup services exist in your area.
Brenna Davis is director of Education for Justice and environmental initiatives for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. She graduated from Boston College in 2010 and served in Cleveland as a Jesuit Volunteer. She previously taught theology, coached cross country, and served as main office coordinator at Saint Martin de Porres, Cleveland’s Cristo Rey High School. During her time there she was the self-proclaimed assistant to the director of facilities in all sustainability initiatives on campus. She is a certified spiritual director and a Cuyahoga County Master Recycler.
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The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) is a national social justice network inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. ISN was founded in 2004 and is a lay-led 501(c)3 organization working in partnership with Jesuit universities, high schools, and parishes, along with many other Catholic institutions and social justice partners.