Rethinking our waste

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One challenge I’ve had for myself in the past year was to reduce my food waste. This forced me to pay attention to what I had in the fridge, eat leftovers quicker and eat what I buy and only buy what I know I’ll eat. Yes, this is still a work in progress and I’m no where close to being perfect about it. Yet, I think it’s a good challenge for everyone in California and in the US, especially with statistics mentioned in this NPR article:

It’s Time To Get Serious About Reducing Food Waste, Feds Say

1/3 of all food produced in the US ends up not even consumed! I wonder how much water that wastes in the end, California. Things to consider.

I think more cities need to collect food waste and turn it into a renewable nutrient-dense soil amendment, aka COMPOST! We might need more infrastructure and facilities to support this, but I think it’s worth paying tax dollars to reduce methane and turn our waste into something productive. Recology‬ is doing great things with the 3-bin system (ie. in SF, Marin county). The green bin shouldn’t be just for yard waste, like it is in San Jose, there are more items that can be composted. The 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) need one more friend: Let’s Rethink our wasteful ways.

If more cities mandate waste management to be on our minds, like how they do in San Francisco’s homes and restaurants, then our culture will shift and we might be able to reduce that ridiculous statistic mentioned above. Composting, giving to Food Banks, being mindful of what you’re buying when shopping – these are a few things we can all work on individually until all garbage services provide that 3rd “Compostables” bin. As for public gatherings/events, how can we reduce such large amounts of waste? I am amazed at the efforts of Green Mary; she is an amazing female with a great attitude and passion for zero waste at events. I was able to work a few shifts for her greening team this past year and really enjoyed the mission and message that the company was all about. It was a super dirty job, involving sorting waste at public events in SF, but really gave me perspective on how our society has such wasteful habits. “Out of sight out of mind”, eh? It’s easy to fall back on that idea, but I challenge any one reading this to look at the contents of your waste before you throw away and stop to think: Can I recycle this? Can I compost this? Can I reuse this? Did I need to get this in the first place? Let’s all rethink our wasteful habits and make a solid effort to reduce our collective contributions to the landfills.

That being said, I’d like to share something I’ve been learning about: how great worms are! I’ve been really interested in vermicompost this past year, and although it’s slimy and grimy, waste can be pretty beautiful. The castings (or poo) they produce from indulging in my food scraps create nutrient-dense soil amendments. I intend to harvest the rich compost for the first time this weekend. Hope it goes well and all my worms don’t wiggle away.

Here are a few signs I painted earlier in the summer for Our City Forest’s Community Nursery during my term as an AmeriCorps member. I was trying to get the compost area in shape and turn it productive, but it can be challenging (and exhausting) for many reasons that I won’t digress into. Enjoy my artwork and I hope it inspires someone to do their own research into different ways you can compost at home or work.

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