TVCR Offers Free Backyard Compost Bins
Did you know the average American throws away more than 300 pounds of food each year? In Teton Valley this food waste gets trucked more than 90 miles to the Circular Butte Landfill where it decomposes through an anaerobic process, ultimately releasing the greenhouse gas, methane, which is thirty times more potent than carbon dioxide! Other significant downsides to throwing food waste in the garbage are the associated costs of trucking this heavy material, the carbon dioxide released from engine exhaust, and the increased taxpayer liability we face if any groundwater contamination is detected at the landfill – we pay remediation based on the tonnage we contributed whether our county caused the contamination or not, so it is in our best interest to reduce, reuse, and recycle in every way to minimize this high-cost risk. Food waste also makes your trash can smell bad and can be wet and messy.
The solution? Salvageable foodstuffs should feed people (check out the Community Resource Center Food Rescue Program), and food waste not suitable for human consumption should feed local farm animals and our soil through the process of composting.
Through grant funding from the Community Foundation of Teton Valley, and generous donations from Kate’s Real Food, Teton Valley Community Recycling (TVCR) is now able to offer valley residents a free solution – a “Community Composting Program”! Composting, through the action of beneficial microbes, naturally breaks down food waste into a nourishing, natural “fertilizer” (aka “black gold”) to feed our local soils – so much better than buying soil amendments in big plastic bags. A well-managed compost pile has minimal odor and produces usable compost in approximately six months.
TVCR would like to see as much food waste as possible get turned back into nutrient-rich soil. While it’s not difficult to set up or manage a backyard compost bin, many people need an extra nudge. So, we will be offering free, lightweight, backyard compost bins along with simple instructions and follow-up consults to help people succeed with their compost bins. We will also be tracking data on waste diverted from garbage cans into compost bins.
TVCR realizes that backyard composting is not practical for all residents for a variety of reasons such as restrictive neighborhood CCRs, proximity to bear habitat, not enough space, renting, or only living here seasonally. Don’t worry! We don’t want to leave you out, so we’re developing a “Neighborhood Network” by providing free 2.5 gallon or 5-gallon buckets for you to collect food waste (plant-based materials – “If it came from the ground, it can go back to the ground”) to share with your neighbors who have traditional outdoor compost bins. It’s well documented that larger compost piles “cook” faster, so it benefits everyone to pool residential food waste – especially if there is a gardener ready to put those nutrients back into the soil!
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be the recipient of any of these options: a lightweight backyard compost bin (and some basic training); a bucket for you to fill for your neighbors with compost piles; or, the opportunity to receive food scraps from your neighbors who are collecting in buckets. TVCR is currently working on print resources for our “Neighborhood Network” program and compost information for those concerned about bears. Stay tuned!
If you care about what happens to your food waste but this all sounds too complicated, you now have the option of subscribing to a curbside food waste pick-up program through Mountain Roost Farm. Farm owner, Heather McLendon, practices regenerative agriculture and has a mix of animals and crops. In past years, she has organized community pumpkin round-ups to feed the pigs after Halloween, and has accepted Christmas trees to chip for her farm compost. This year, she is launching a curbside pick-up program that will allow you to responsibly dispose of your food waste – no matter what your living situation or available free time! For more information, or to subscribe to Mountain Roost’s curbside organic waste pickup, please email MountainRoostFarm@gmail.com.