Just Do It!

I was excited when I was asked to write the lead article for FGMC’s first newsletter of the year and carefully considered how best to use this platform to highlight an issue important to me (That apples are hands-down the best fruit? How cruise ships are really just enormous disease vectors on sea? When will I see a purple finch?).

But the truth is, in light of all the bad climate-related news in the last few months, in the end, the choice of topic for this article was simple. I want to convince you to start composting, if you aren’t already.

2024 has not been a good year on the global warming/climate change front, including but not limited to consecutive “hottest month on record” markers and news that January 2024 was the first time on record that for the past twelve months, global temperatures averaged 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Even more, it seems like every action we little people can take to reduce our carbon footprint has drawbacks. For example, while electric cars cut down on emissions, what about the emissions from the coal-powered power station that is providing the electricity to charge your EV? And, even though many recycling programs purport to accept plastic waste, it’s actually virtually impossible to recycle plastic. Basically, the plastic waste we are putting into our purple recycling bins is not going to the recycling facility to be recycled; it’s going to the recycling facility to be landfilled somewhere else.

Composting is different.  It actually works – really well — and there is no insidious downside. If you are going to make one change this year, let it be the decision to start composting. Allow me break it down (bah?) for you:

One – composting reduces waste by taking organic matter out of landfills. In landfills, organic matter breaks down and releases the powerful greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere. The City of Denver estimates that nearly half of what Denver residents throw away is organic matter that could be composted. This is a staggering number.

Two – not only does composting reduce landfill waste and carbon emissions, compost actually adds vital nutrients back into our soil, increasing its capacity to support plant growth and also reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. This also helps fortify Colorado’s clay-like soil against erosion which in turn reduces demands on Colorado’s water supply.

Three — compost improves soil’s capacity to store carbon, thereby actually offsetting CO2 emissions. Four – the compost processing cycle itself has a small carbon footprint. Win-win-win-win. As the kids say, composting is fire.

Most importantly, if you live in Denver, composting is almost embarrassingly easy. Thanks to the January 2023 rollout of Denver’s Expanded Waste Services program, Denver now provides free weekly compost services to its residents. All Denverites have to do is put their food waste in their handy kitchen pail provided by the city, and then take their compost waste out to the green compost bin hopefully now sitting next to your trash bin and recycling bin.

There are other, more personal benefits to composting as well. Since my house started composting and putting all food waste into our kitchen compost pail and not the trash, our trash never smells. We also generate significantly less trash, probably taking out the trash half as often as we did before we started composting (although we do take out the compost fairly frequently, but it’s small and easy to handle). It’s not a messy process, either, as there are CMA (compost manufacturing alliance) approved compostable bags such as these nifty BioBags with handles you can use in your kitchen pail. It’s just like taking out the trash, but with a smaller, cuter bag. We also fill up our bin with yard waste multiple times a year, and take it from me, it’s fifty times easier to just chuck bush and tree trimmings into a wide-mouth bin than trying to stuff them into a trash bag.

The climate news is scary, but we are all in this together. I love Denver and I love Colorado, and composting is an incredibly easy way to benefit our great city and state, not to mention world. I’m grateful Denver has decided to incentivize composting because it actually works and does make a difference. So do it. No excuses.

Katie A. Roush, Partner

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