According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of waste to send to landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead!
The past couple of weeks I've been doing research for a client on the composting infrastructure in Indiana, and let me tell you folks, it is sad, sad, sad. Most communities, including Indianapolis, have some sort of composting available for dry brush, wood waste and leaves. But, once you start talking about anything wet, like food waste, the options are slim-pickin's.
I'm sure that a lot of us here do some sort of backyard composting. Certainly our family generates so little trash each week because we reduce waste first (take our own grocery bags, buy in bulk, etc); then, we recycle everything we possibly can (curbside, drop off, etc); and we compost all of our food scraps in the back yard. If we didn't have to pick up pet waste from the yard and change the litter box weekly, I swear we wouldn't have to put out our 96 gallon trash container but once a quarter, if that.
It bothers me greatly that Indiana passed legislation in 1990 to encourage diversion of waste from landfills. And, since that time, the legislature has chipped away at the initial energy until municipalities have lost their enthusiasm for recycling and composting. And, this legislature, this IDEM Commissioner and this Governor have tried to drive the final nail into the coffin.
How can we turn things around? Can we collectively make it known to our elected officials here in Indiana that a lot of people genuinely care about these issues, support waste reduction efforts....because it saves energy, it creates cleaner jobs, it reduces our need to find more places to bury and burn trash, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, it extends the life of our natural resources, and (of course), it is the right thing to do.