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Food Waste and Composting

Did you know that about 40% of the food produced in the U.S. is wasted? 

  • Much of the food sent to landfills is still edible. 

  • The rotting of food waste and other organic material in landfills produces methane. This greenhouse gas is about 34 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. 

  • Growing, processing and transporting food that ends up in landfills not only wastes water, energy and resources. It produces more greenhouse emissions at each step. 

  • All of these factors add up to make food waste reduction the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gases. (See Drawdown 2020 Scenario 1). 


What can we do, as individuals and a community?

  • We can reduce our own food waste through small shifts in how we plan, shop, store and prepare food. 

  • We can recycle the nutrients in our food scraps through composting. 

  • For broader impact, we can advocate for community actions to prevent and divert wasted food. 

    • PITTSFORD FOOD SCRAP RECYCLING PROGRAM​ has begun for pittsford residents.  Be part of this pilot program by registering here! This program is just way we can divert our food scraps away from a landfill and use it to create usable energy.

  • This site can help you get started on any or all of these actions. Contact Color Pittsford Green to see how you can learn even more and get involved in community outreach and advocacy.  Contact Us


Simple steps to reduce household food waste

We can eat well, simplify our lives, toss less, save money and prevent waste! Here’s how:

  • Buy only what you will eat. 

  • Cook and serve just enough. (Or cook with a mindset of using, freezing, or sharing leftovers.)

  • Extend the life of your food through the best use of your refrigerator and freezer. Read your refrigerator and freezer user guides. Follow these tips from the Natural Resources Defense Council: The Refrigerator, Demystified. 

  • Compost food scraps and other organics instead of putting them in the trash. 

Why compost? 

Composting is a controlled breakdown of organic matter such as kitchen scraps, cardboard, paper, yard trimmings and wood shavings. It is an aerobic process that creates a nutrient-rich material called compost. In a landfill, that same organic matter decays in an anaerobic process that releases harmful methane. Where would you prefer to put your waste?


Benefits of compost as a soil additive

  • Nutrition: Compost contains a full spectrum of essential plant nutrients that are released slowly, providing more consistent nutrition to the plants. Compost also helps balance the pH of alkaline or acidic soil.

  • Soil Structure: Compost helps bind soil particles into porous, aggregate material that holds air, moisture and nutrients.

  • Soil Life: Compost introduces and feeds diverse microbial life in the soil to support vigorous plant growth and protect your plants from disease and pests... reducing or eliminating the need for synthetic pesticides and fertilizer.

  • Water Quality: Compost promotes healthy root growth that absorbs more water and decreases runoff.


At-home composting

Composting is easier than you might think. You don’t need to have a garden. You can use compost to enrich soil around your houseplants or outdoor landscaping, patch areas in your lawn or give to a neighbor who gardens. 


Getting started is easy. You can:

  • Make your own compost bin for as little as $10. (See plans here.)

  • Buy your own compost bin. Here are some from Home Depot or from Lowes. Many sizes are available, so don’t worry about needing a large yard. Some are even small enough for an apartment or townhome balcony.

  • Pick an outdoor spot on your property and let nature take its course with a little help from you.


Tips for home composting

1.     Pick your composting site. With proper implementation, composting won’t smell or attract pests.

2.     Collect the right food scraps: fruits, vegetables, grains, rice and coffee grounds. (Don’t compost meat,          fish or dairy; these will attract pets or wildlife.)

3.     Focus on the ratio of materials. You want about equal amounts of browns (carbon) and greens                        (nitrogen), plus adequate water. 

  • Brown: dry material such as dead leaves, twigs and paper scraps. 

  • Green: wet material such as grass clippings and the food scraps mentioned above.

4.     Layer correctly. Start with dry browns on the bottom, then layer greens on top. Alternate these layers,          each one to two inches deep. Top off with a layer of browns to reduce odor.

5.     Wait for the materials to decompose. In warm weather this can take two to five weeks. Cold weather              may slow the composting process by months.

6.     Turn over or rotate the composting material every seven to 10 days to keep air flowing. Water the                  material to keep it feeling like a damp sponge.

7.     Watch for your compost to be ready for use. You’ll know it’s ready when it becomes brown and                      aggregates, becoming crumbly when dryer.

Commercial composting services

Locally, Impact Earth offers both drop-off and curbside pick-up services; they do the composting of your food waste and give back finished compost. Check Impact Earth’s website for details and pricing.


Community action

Food waste is not yet widely seen as the pressing problem it really is. But things are beginning to change. 

  • The New York State Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law requires businesses generating more than two tons of wasted food per week to donate excess edible food and recycle remaining food waste if they are within 25 miles of an organics recycler (such as composter or biodigester). Read more about this law here.

  • The network of Color Your Community Green teams (including Color Pittsford Green) is working to convince Monroe County to build large-scale composting facilities within the county. Currently any collected food waste must be trucked 30 to 40 miles to be composted. Local facilities would give towns around the county efficient places to get composting done, freeing towns to focus on collection of compostable material from their residents and businesses. What’s more, the facilities would help provide nutrient-rich soil for regional farmers and gardeners, creating jobs and decreasing our dependence on other counties. Learn more about this advocacy and sign a petition here.

  • Color Pittsford Green is working to convince our elected Town officials to implement a municipal program for waste collection and composting. Action by Monroe County (described above) would certainly help pave the way!

  • Pittsford’s Spiegel Recreation & Community Center collects food scraps from Senior lunch programs for pick up and composting by Impact Earth. Some of the compost comes back to Pittsford for use in the Community Garden at Thornell Farm Park.

  • Color Pittsford Green is advocating for Pittsford schools to initiate food waste collection in their cafeterias so that this material can be composted rather than landfilled. (For example, the Brighton school district has set up stations of recycle bins for kids to sort their trash, paper materials and food scraps for composting.) 


More on food waste reduction


More on composting

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