Clermont SWCD conducted a series of food waste audits at schools around the county to assess how much food is thrown out in a lunch period. Food waste is a huge issue, especially for schools who bear the brunt of the costs not only in the food that is thrown away, but again when they pay for the waste to be hauled away. In addition to the financial strain of food waste, wasted food can be a hefty burden to the community since it means a loss of natural resources used for growing, processing, packing, and transporting.
In a series of four audits conducted at Pattison Elementary in Milford, and Merwin Elementary and West Clermont Middle School in the West Clermont School District, students were guided in the process of sorting, weighing, and analyzing how much food was thrown out in each lunch period. An average of 94lbs of food was wasted each lunch period or about half a pound of food waste per student. Milk was reported to be the highest wasted food item with a total of 152lbs thrown out across all four audits. Clermont SWCD staff plans to continue conducting audits through the next school year and work with the school districts to find ways to reduce the total waste generated.
When most people hear the word ‘compost’, they automatically think of a smelly pile of moldy food. However, when done correctly, composting does not smell bad and is a sanitary way to dispose of organic waste. There are many excellent reasons to compost and the greater Cincinnati area has numerous resources available to assist you on your composting journey. Composting yard, garden, and food waste at home saves transportation and disposal cost, and provides an environmentally sound way to manage waste, since yard waste makes up to 30% of the municipal solid waste stream. In addition, composting can provide excellent fertilizer for gardens, yards, and other plants. Adding compost to your garden will increase drainage and provide a continuous source of nutrients required for plant health.
There are many different ways to start composting and no matter what your restrictions may be, there is a composting method that will work for you. At the most basic level, composting can happen when materials are placed in a mound and left alone. If you want a faster or more contained system, you can consider building or purchasing a composting bin. It is not necessary to have a bin, however, it can make it easier to turn the pile, keep the pile manageable, and remove finished compost. You can make your own bin out of wood or fencing and posts. You can also purchase a compost bin that is an enclosed system which will produce usable compost typically in less than a month. These types of bins include rolling bins, tumblers, enclosed bins, and worm bins. If you are interested in purchasing a composting bin, the Office of Environmental Quality currently has Earth Machine compost bins available for purchase for $46. Contact Hannah Lubbers (513) 732-7894 x 4 or email@example.com for more details.
Composting can be an easy and cost effective way to improve the soil quality in your gardens and help your landscaping thrive. No matter how you choose to compost your organic waste, know that you are doing your part to help reduce the amount of waste that goes to our landfills.