Composting has become increasingly popular around the world, including in the Finger Lakes. Despite this, many people are unaware of the importance of composting in achieving a sustainable waste management system. Households produce food waste on a daily basis; Interestingly enough, this seemingly unusable product is a great resource that can be allocated for different purposes.
Organic matter, including food scraps, is broken down by microbes. In landfills, microbes are forced to work in anaerobic conditions, without oxygen. Under these conditions, microbes emit a large amount of methane, a greenhouse gas, thus contributing to climate change. Composting is an alternative method of disposing of food waste. It provides aerobic conditions for microbes which break down organic matter, so less methane is emitted.
Additionally, composting reduces waste generated by landfills, adds nutrients to the soil, and saves water by increasing the amount of moisture the soil can hold.
In the past year, preschoolers in the city of Geneva school district began to compost under the guidance of the program coordinator, Jena Fuchs. With the collaboration of teachers, staff and students, each of the preschool classes sorted their food waste, which was weighed and entered into a composting system for thirty days. Seven classes participated with a total of 73 students, weighing a total of 1,236 pounds of food waste over the thirty day period! Hopefully over the next few years, with the help of students, teachers and administrators, these efforts will spread throughout the district, with the goal of diverting as much food waste as possible from landfills.
Geneva is located between the landfills in Seneca and Ontario counties, so much of the community regularly experiences foul smells and harmful emissions. Fortunately, the Geneva Resource Recovery Park has provided a sustainable alternative for food waste management.
Located at 41 Doran Avenue in the city of Geneva, city and town residents are permitted access to the closed-loop systems facilities for a small annual fee of $ 15. They are open for collection on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. at 5 p.m. If you are interested in these services and want to get rid of your food waste in a sustainable way, you can find out more on their website: https://closedloopsys.com.
Given our active and socially conscious community, there is a bright future as our local food waste management systems shift to more sustainable practices. With the help of community members and public education and outreach, the Finger Lakes have an incredible opportunity to be a role model in food waste management.
This article, written by members of the Green Club of the Lycée de Genève, is part of a series of one-off reports prepared by the Green Committee of the City of Geneva. The high school group recently started collaborating with the city committee on projects.