This summer, I had an opportunity to help launch Westport’s Zero Food Waste Challenge program in which C&HT serves as a partner organization with Sustainable Westport. Our parish advocates for this program are Dawn Sullivan and Aileen Brill.
What does “zero food waste” mean and what is the Challenge?
Zero Food Waste is a movement which assists a community striving to produce a common waste-free life. We do this in ways that minimize the amount of compostable waste thrown out and reduce and reuse it to get it back into the world in a new and green way. The Challenge is to reduce Westport residential food waste by 25% or more.
Can you tell us how it works?
Zero Food Waste first starts with the community, with all of us collecting food scraps and composting them. Some of you may already home compost, which is great for the environment: composting food scraps produces a useful and valuable product that gives back to our nutrient life cycle, resulting in cleaner soil, water and air. https://www.sustainablewestport.org/zero-food-waste-challenge/#1584040942700-10427a89-ab27. Unlike home composting, this new, free food scraps recycling program at the Westport Transfer Station allows Westport residents to recycle all food products, including animal-based foods such as bones, meat, fish, shells, cheese and food-soiled paper towels and napkins. This is because the food scraps are being taken to an industrial composting facility, where the composting temperatures get much hotter than a home composting system. Products are placed in a countertop pail using BPI certified compostable bags to organize/collect them. Then, those bags of food scraps will be stored in a storage and transportation bin such as in the “Starter Kit” that I helped put together and which are available for $25 at Earthplace or free if Income-Eligible (see related photo). Finally, the community/residents will bring the storage and transportation bins to the transfer station in Westport and empty them into larger bins at the Food Scraps Recycling Drop-Off area (see other related photo where I educated those visiting the Transfer Station about the Food Scrap Recycling process and ensured that those dropping off food scraps did it according to the rules). You don’t have to use the starter kit to collect and transport food scraps, but it’s easier for most residents. You just need to put food scraps in a lidded container when you bring them to the transfer station.
What has this work meant to you personally?
I recently learned that 20% of Connecticut’s residential solid waste that our community throws out is compostable food waste, which got me to think about how much we could be saving and contributing to Zero Waste in a frictionless amount of change to help the planet.
Where do you see God in this work?
The community that strives for Zero Waste comes together in a wonderful way. The fact that myself and the community of Zero Waste are able to work out a plan to reduce waste, and manage to get people involved while we are in a pandemic, is a sure sign of God’s plan for caring about each other as well as showing the community’s passion towards taking care of the earth.
Please help make C&HT a Zero Food Waste champion partner by composting your food waste at home or bringing it to the Westport Transfer Station!
Further information on Sustainable Westport is available at: https://www.sustainablewestport.org/
Further information on the Zero Food Waste Challenge is available at: https://www.sustainablewestport.org/webinar-replay-zero-food-waste-challenge-cook-more-with-less/
Further information on Food Scrap Recycling in Westport is available at: https://www.sustainablewestport.org/info-food-scrap-recycling-in-westport/ .