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Sound Bites: How Keeping Food Out Of Landfills Makes The Earth Greener

The Total Organics Recycling compost site.
Virginia Harold | Sauce Magazine
The Total Organics Recycling compost site.

Consumers are becoming more aware of the negative effects mass consumption has on the environment. Many are calling for more ethical fashion, eating less meat and raising awareness about what happens to food that doesn’t make it on the shelves, or onto a plate. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 30 to 40% of the U.S. food supply is wasted.

Composting and combating food waste are the subjects of this month's Sound Bites segment with Sauce Magazine. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Sauce managing editor Heather Hughes and Total Organics Recycling marketing coordinator Sara Koziatek joined guest host Sharon Stevens to explain what composting is, how it helps the environment and how some local restaurants are making it a priority to keep food scraps out of landfills.

Read: St. Louis' fight to reduce waste through composting, repurposing food

Why keep food out of landfills?

“It has to do with the way that the food breaks down,” Hughes explained. “If you throw any leftover food or food scraps into a landfill, it’s going to take a really, really long time to decompose, and as it decomposes, it’s going to produce a lot of methane gas.”

“If you put the same stuff in a compost pile, it breaks down in a different way that does not produce methane in the same way because of the mix of oxygen in the compost pile.”

Koziatek said composting is as simple as starting a pile of food scraps mixed with leaves, grass branches and shrubs.

“You can start throwing in your leaves, some of your grass clippings, and nature will take care of the rest,” Koziatek added. The results of compost material are beneficial to use as soil conditioner, fertilizer and as natural pesticide for soil.

It might be inconvenient to start a compost pile at home, but almost any food items can be composted. Koziatek suggests creating two composting piles – one for ‘cooking’ and breaking down material, and one for adding newer material to – and using a rake or pitchfork to turn the piles every couple of weeks.

Organizations like Total Organics Recycling operate on larger scales and are able to compost harder items such as meat, bones and poultry items.

Listen to the full discussion:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. “St. Louis on the Air” producers Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan andJon Lewis give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.