ideas banner

Zero Waste and Composting


Life + Learning

  • a tipped over compost bin, spilling various composting items onto a blue surface

Dawn, Clemens Mill | June 29, 2020

What is composting?

Composting plays an important role in the Zero Waste movement and represents an accessible option for waste prevention while also having added benefits for the environment. Through the goal of trying to prevent the creation of waste, the zero waste movement can be benefited by large scale and backyard composting alike. Composting can be defined as a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

The importance of composting is rooted in the fact that it allows for the natural decomposition of waste, while any organic materials that end up in landfill are forced to decompose without adequate oxygen and therefore produce methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Practicing composting either through municipal collection or at home, can help to divert almost half of your household garbage and nourish the environment or your own garden in process. If you’re like me and have ever stopped to ponder where does all this material go exactly? Read a detailed explanation of the journey of your Green Bin contents from the Region of Waterloo - it’s pretty cool!

Backyard composting

Backyard composting is an achievable step in a personal Zero Waste goal. For specific information regarding composting regulations in our area, the Region of Waterloo waste management website provides all that you need to know.

By diverting kitchen waste and other green bin materials you minimize your waste production and create usable compost right at home! Generally, to set up your own backyard compost you should choose a spot that’s easy to access with shade and good drainage. Buy or build a composter and begin prepare it according to a set of trusted directions like those offered by The Compost Council of Canada. By adding layers of material that are rich in carbon along with other kitchen waste, nitrogen released through decomposing materials will help to create your compost. Still have questions about how to start this process? The David Suzuki Foundation provides some general standards too, for starting out a compost pile at home that are helpful.

I was also able to discuss composting in an interview with a friend and local environmentalist who shared some really great information about her experiences! Check out the interview now.

Food Waste

One of the main categories of focus in the Zero Waste movement is the reduction of food waste. ‘Wasted’ is a documentary on food waste featuring celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. It claims that one-third of all food grown for human consumption ends up in the garbage and that over 90% of wasted food in the United States ends up in landfills. You can watch the documentary for free through CBC. These huge issues are contributing to the emission of greenhouse gases when composting could instead be utilized as a way to minimize negative effects on the environment. At home, strategic meal planning and recipes are simple ways you can easily and effectively combat this issue right in your own kitchen. Planning the use of left-overs or freezing foods that cannot be used by their best before date are simple tricks to help save money while simultaneously minimizing food waste. Why not try adopting some new ‘waste not, want not’ themed recipes into your rotation? Start working toward your Zero Waste goals today!