Did you know? Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of waste to send to landfills when it could become useful compost instead! All around the country, landfills are filling up, garbage incineration is becoming increasingly unpopular, and other waste disposal options are becoming ever harder to find. According to Jonathan Bloom at wastedfood.com, the food rotting in landfills creates millions of tons of methane gas, which scientists say is 20 times as harmful to our atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Landfills are the largest human-related source of methane.
What you can do: Start a compost pile or a worm bin to transform your fruit and veggie scraps into something useful for your plants and lawn. By addressing the solid waste issue, composting provides a way of instilling in children a sense of environmental stewardship. With composting, children can do more than just sending cans or newspapers off for recycling -- they can see the entire cycle, from "yucky" food scraps or other organic wastes... to something that is pleasant to handle and is good for the soil. Contrary to the "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy, children who compost become aware of organic wastes as potential resources rather than just as something "gross" to be thrown away and forgotten. They learn through direct experience that they personally can make a difference and have a positive effect on the environment.
Austin residents can pledge to reduce waste in their homes and start composting by taking advantage of free composting classes in 2012. Many of the classes will take place at neighborhood library branches to make it easier for Austinites to participate.
The classes are part of Austin Resource Recovery's composting rebate program, which challenges Austinites to complete a free composting class, downsize to a 32-gallon trash cart and purchase a home composting system. Austin Resource Recovery curbside customers who do these three things are eligible for a rebate of 75 percent off the cost of their new home composting system, up to $75.
To sign up to attend a class, visit the class-specific registration links below or austinrecycles.com. The list of scheduled classes is as follows:
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Windsor Park Branch Library (Northeast)
Register online: http://freecompostingclassapril11.eventbrite.com/
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Old Quarry Branch Library (Northwest)
Register online: http://freecompostingclassapril25.eventbrite.com/
Additional classes will be scheduled in 2012, and the schedule will be updated at austinrecycles.com. Residents with composting-related questions may email firstname.lastname@example.org.