Science says you should compost your food scraps

CC BY 2.0 Alan Levine/flickr

If you think your kitchen waste is harmless in the landfill, read this.

The best thing to do with your food scraps is to not have them in the first place. But if making pesto with carrot greens isn’t your cup of tea, what do you do with them? For us city mice who don’t have curbside compost pickup, we have a few choices. We can do some kitchen composting or we can toss said scraps in the trash and figure that they will go ahead and do their thing in the landfill; six in one, half-dozen in the other.

But science begs to differ.

In the United States around 95 percent of food scraps are thrown in the trash and eventually end up in landfills. But a new study from the University of Washington looking at the environmental benefits of composting over landfills found convincing evidence that composting is a far better choice.

"You should definitely pay attention to where you put your food waste,” says paper author Sally Brown, a UW research associate professor of environmental and forest sciences.

Food waste, they found, generates "significantly more" of the greenhouse gas methane when it's buried in landfills than when it’s composted.

"Putting your food waste in the compost bin can really help reduce methane emissions from landfills, so it's an easy thing to do that can have a big impact," Brown said.

And city denizens without curbside pickup, sorry, there's no excuse: I just started composting in my apartment and you can too.

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