Composting and Food Waste


Whether you are ambitious enough to start home composting in your garden or yard or thinking about having a simple kitchen compost that you put out on pick up day, here are some tips for success.

Why compost? 

Food scraps that are composted are creating nutrient rich usable soil or mulch that can then be used for organic growing and gardening. Backyard composting will work and you won’t have to worry about rodents or pests if you follow the guidelines of what NOT to put into the compost.

Cambridge collects over 40 tons of food waste per week. In Cambridge, we have green bins from the City for compost. Not using yours?  You are missing an opportunity to easily keep food out of landfills. A small bin in your kitchen and the good habit of remembering to add your scraps means your curbside compost is collected, turned into a slurry and eventually, through a process described in this article, becomes clean energy.

Cambridge collects over 40 tons of food waste per week.

In this article from The Guardian, there are questions about how environmentally friendly composting and anaerobic digestion (the method used by the faculty that takes Cambridge’s curbside compost) really are. One thing that most people agreed on, though, is that keeping food waste out of landfill, where it rots and produces methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times as potent as CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. EPA estimates that wasted food is responsible for 58% of landfill methane emissions.


Food waste takes the cake with its huge impact on the climate. It is something we all contribute to but if we think strategically, we can curb that too.

Here are some good tips….

Be a bulk buyer (and skip the plastic packaging,) only if you are feeding a small army and you know the food will be eaten.  Most of us find that the cheapest option for buying food is in bigger packages…but lots of times we have choices and changing your tune on how you buy and how much is critical for mitigating food waste.

Its a bit staggering to realize that, according to data from the EPA, household food waste accounts for 40 to 50 percent of all food wasted in the United States amounting to about 26.5 million tons of food waste every year.

Two apples

Purchase individual items like fruits and vegetables (while skipping plastic packaging) to cut down on left overs. When you can, grab your own reusable bag and support your local farmers market. When in season, there is nothing better!

Your freezer is your friend. (You will be amazed what you can freeze but you have to remember to use it. Labeling with a date helps)  BTW, new data tells us that frozen vegetables are often just as nutritious as fresh!  Here are some tips and information on using you freezer to cut down on food waste: 

Rethink those “use by” and expiration dates. According to a MITRE/Gallop study for the NRDC, “we could save 202 million cups of edible food per year if Americans stopped needlessly tossing food simply because of the date label and switched to the behaviors of households that aren’t tossing past-dated food.” Has anyone in your household turned to you and said “smell this?”  Some parents will laugh but honestly, if the food is bad, it will smell and look “off.”

Some of these tips seem great—but often they are less forgiving on our wallets. Stick with what you can do-don’t kick yourself if you are doing the best you can.

Food waste-here are the facts 

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