Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Composting Compulsion – Seattle’s Ordinance to go greener

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Two years and six months ago Seattle’s plastic bag ban went into effect, creating a push for paper and reusable bags. At the beginning of this month an ordinance passed to prevent food waste from entering the landfill and encouraging citizens to compost. For me, this is a no brainer, but that is because I grew up in a small town, and became accustomed to recycling and composting (we even had our own pile in our backyard). This however has not been the case for my roommates. There are six of us in our house and not all are native composters, especially since we come from different states with different laws and access for composting. At first, getting our house to compost was challenging, as I believe it is probably the same for people who are adjusting to the ordinance. In the end though, I have celebrated the little victories and appreciated the cooler weather that keeps the bugs away from our food waste bin.

3 Reasons to compost: Affordability, ‘Renew-ability’, and Ease. 1) The reason composting is affordable is because it will save you space and pick-ups in the normal garbage bin. If you choose to have it picked up through a service, it will most likely be cheaper than the average garbage rate, because it creates incentive to compost. If you choose to backyard compost, then it’s free! 2) Composting food scraps and yard waste also turns garbage in to a renewable resource, because it can be turned into mulch for plants and food in the future. Making use of this organic material not only saves space in landfills but can prevent the need for synthetically created fertilizers. 3) Ease should also be a reason to compost, which at first you may not believe me, but with curbside pick-up and bags provided and replaced during pick-up it can be a very simple process. Also with Seattle’s ordinance, there are very few limitations on what can be composted, sticks, shells and bones, and food-soiled paper are all accepted, so sorting out foods doesn’t have to be complicated.

Other cities that do it: San Francisco, Portland, and New York all have mandatory composting, and other cities are taking note. In Austin TX, the city council just approved the mandatory composting for restaurants starting next year, and Atlanta has pledged to become a Zero Waste Zone starting their process by turning food waste into bio fuel. The entire state of Vermont is also reconsidering how waste is disposed of according to their Universal Recycling law (Act 148) which has incremental steps for mandatory recycling and compost.

A few weeks ago, one of my roommates even bought the compostable bags for our little counter top bin (that we actually keep out on our balcony)! I was amazed. In addition, dumping the compost has also been added to the chore chart with our overflowing recycling and garbage so I’m not the only one dumping it out. The baby steps all count toward the bigger picture! Good luck Seattlites with this change!

Author: Lauren

SPU Student

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