Tag Archives: compost

Begich Middle School Composting (video)

Begich Middle School composting

I love seeing the kid in this video explaining the process, and he definitely gets it. We need more of this!

Know of any schools that are composting near you? This is one of those things that I foresee really taking off in the coming years.

Why? It’s simple ownership of the students’ (and staff’s) waste that can merge nicely with an Environmental Science or Home Economics class that most if not all kids have to take at some point. Plus, these behaviors can make their way home and just like that our landfill impact drops.

While Newt Gingrich made those extra-strength ignorant comments about replacing a custodian’s job with students as young as 9 years old, maybe this is a little more realistic. Kids can take turns collecting and carting out the daily scraps to a compost pile/bin and learn why they need to mix their browns with their greens. Simple and awesome, don’t you agree?

Fight Waged With Forks Is Rejoined In Congress (article)

WASHINGTON — Within the war between Republicans and Democrats over the federal spending rages an affray over disposable forks.

Under the tutelage of Representative Nancy Pelosi during the years when Democrats ran the House, her party moved to “green” the Capitol with several initiatives, including obligating the food vendor for the three main House cafeterias to provide compostable cups and utensils. But the newly empowered House Republicans have ended the program, and plastic forks and foam cups have returned.

The move enraged many Democrats, who argue that the House is now doing something bad for the environment and retrograde.

“If you look at the best companies to work for, nobody is questioning things like composting and recycling,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon, who wrote a letter this week to Speaker John A. Boehner to complain about the cut. Mr. Blumenauer’s letter — signed by some Democratic colleagues as well — also cited health concerns associated with plastic foam.

Republicans counter that the composting program cost too much and had limited environmental benefits, and that the compostable utensils were a bad deal for diners anyway because they could not stand up to hot soup and the heartier salad fixings.

“Contrary to the objective of the program,” said Salley Wood, the spokeswoman for Representative Dan Lungren of California, chairman of the House Administration Committee, who moved to end the program, composting “failed to produce significant savings in carbon emissions.” On that score, she said, the total savings were equal to taking one car off the road per year.

The program took $475,000 each year from the fees that the House collected from the food vendor, Restaurant Associates, between the materials, labor and costs of hauling refuse out. (Restaurant Associates would not comment for this article.)

Further, Ms. Wood added, the spoons would often dissolve in hot liquids, and forks and knives bent and snapped. “They could not penetrate lettuce,” she said, adding, “There were a substantial number of complaints.”

While the most visible spending fights center on money for Planned Parenthood, public broadcasting, Medicare and other concerns that touch the lives of people who do not spend their days on Capitol Hill, the fork fracas brings the current ideological warfare into relief, perhaps because it is playing out daily on the cafeteria trays of those who work here.

As the Environmental Protection Agency officials face off against skeptical Republicans in round after round of hearings concerning regulations, and as Democrats fight to save their pet programs in the face of Republican-led budget slashing, the battle over the best way to serve the House special (often a burrito, with too many green peppers, and a 16-ounce soda) is over money and beliefs.

“This decision really embodies the new G.O.P. majority,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi of California, the former speaker. “More trash talk and policies that take us backwards.”

Ms. Wood countered: “He’s trash-talking our trash talk?  We suspended the costly program based on the undisputable fact that it wasn’t working.” She added, “Is it environmental mediocrity at any price?” In fact, in December in a letter to the head of the Republican transition team, the departing chairman of the Administration Committee, Representative Robert A. Brady, Democrat of Pennsylvania, suggested ending the composting program because it was not cost-efficient.

Ms. Wood said that while the committee had found the composting program wasteful, it had come up with its own initiatives to “green” the cafeterias. At the Rayburn House Office Building, the cafeterias will soon begin to use reusable dinnerware, and the House will seek to have all of its solid waste sent to incinerator plants that create energy, rather than to landfills.         -Jennifer Steinhauer


It really saddens me when stuff like this happens… no alternatives here?  I will even give them the benefit of the doubt regarding bioplastics: they’re expensive and many compost facilities don’t even want that stuff either.

Here’s a simple idea: Try paper plates and cups.  Now you don’t have to ditch the compost service and you drastically dropped your costs.  Ideally, they wouldn’t have disposable anything though.

This is a blaring example of our government’s inability to think critically…and it makes a grand statement about the education that needs to occur to have a future at all.

Worse is how the article wraps up with something they think is positive: “waste to energy”.  Do not be fooled.  At least she uses the big “I” word, calling it what it is.  No matter how you burn something, you’re creating toxins that cause cancer and respiratory problems for all of us.

Greening the Mini Golf Course

While I was looking around to see if anyone had ever written about waste at a mini golf course, I found an article that I was really hoping existed: Greening the Golf Course Greens .  Such a no-brainer:  You’re cutting tons of grass and shrubs all the time, you want some pretty flowers here and there, and do you really need fluorescent green grass?

I haven’t played golf in years.  I used to play occasionally but I preferred the Par 3’s or even better, mini golf.  I always found putting to be the most fun part, and when I went to Myrtle Beach recently, little did I know it was the mini golf capital of…the U.S.?  The world?  Either way, I was psyched.


Right away, I noticed there were trash cans every so often on the mini golf course…why?  What do I need to throw away?  I don’t.  At the end, all I have is a paper score card and possibly a plastic soda bottle.  Return the pencil back to the front desk, don’t throw it away, slacker.

paper towels and scorecards...both compostable.
Paper towels and scorecards...both compostable.

Sadly, I have the lamest photo of this occurrence…it was dark out and the staff was eying me rather strangely as I kept casually trying to take photos of the can’s contents.  All it consisted of was soda bottles, scorecards and an occasional paper towel or tissue…both compostable.  Mini golf courses are a screaming example of zero waste…does anyone know of a place doing this?

Use the compost on your course grounds, or send it out to a commercial composting facility.  Recycle your plastics/glass/aluminum: your patrons want to see that, even if they act like they don’t care.  And that’s it.

OK, one “extreme” thought to minimize stuff even more: Sell drinks at the front in reusable/returnable cups and have your only waste segregation point at the front desk.  Finally, have mini marker boards made with pens attached to them so that you don’t need the score cards.  Those things always blow all over the place anyway.  Any takers?

How Is Compost Rated?

Ever wonder about how compost is rated for quality?  U.S. Composting Council website to the rescue:

Seal of Testing Assurance

I think it’s a pretty safe bet that if you’re looking to purchase compost, look for the U.S. Composting Council seal of certification.  Further, look to buy from a nursery as opposed to a huge retail chain to increase your chance of getting some good stuff.