Clean your plate: children in India/Africa are starving! Many of us heard this injunction growing up. Insufficient food is a huge problem in many countries, but even here in Fairfax County 44,000 residents receive help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) because they are unable on their own to get enough food to eat.
Some individuals, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. try to close the loop and donate “extra” food to those in need, but Sustainable America estimates that 40% of food in the United States is wasted. For more information on eating out without wasting food: http://www.sustainableamerica.org/blog/eating-out-without-wasting-food/
Leftover food that cannot be used by others is an environmental opportunity. This past spring, Fairfax County’s Solid Waste Management Program announced its launch of a pilot composting program “to encourage the growth of local companies that collect food waste (also called organic waste) from homes, events, businesses, etc., and turn it into compost. The compost can then be used as a high-quality soil amendment in residential backyards, farms, and landscaping projects.”
What makes this type of large-scale composting appealing is that items that normally would not go in a smaller household composting operation such as bones and meat and paper products can be included.
To date, two composting companies, Compost Crew and Veterans, have registered with the program. The County has reviewed these companies’ equipment and operations, thus providing some assurance to potential customers that they are operating in a safe and sustainable way.
Bottom line: Try not to waste food, but if you do have organic scraps, put them to good use!