A thriving composting and recycling effort in San Francisco has not only been good for the environment, but also good for the economy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycling creates nearly five times as many jobs as sending material to a landfill. A study from the Blue Green Alliance also states that if we increased our recycling rate to 75%, 2.3 million jobs would be created nationwide.
Decreasing the amount of refuse the city is sending to the landfill is also helping San Francisco reduce our carbon footprint. Waste sent to a landfill produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is up to 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
That’s why Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to begin a composting program this year in New York is music to the ears of those of us in the zero waste movement. Composting has been key to increasing our diversion rate.
Success does not happen overnight. Behavior change is hard business. In San Francisco, when recycling and composting was mandated, we experienced some initial resistance because of the “ick” factor: the idea that composting could be foul smelling and belongs on a farm, not in a city.
Overcoming these misconceptions is as easy as reminding people that compostables have been in your kitchen trash can all along. Now, you are separating out your coffee grounds, food scraps, soiled paper and dead flowers and putting them toward a good cause.
In San Francisco our good cause is wine and fresh produce. San Francisco has collected more than a million tons of food scraps, yard trimmings, and other compostable materials and turned it into nutrient rich compost that is in demand by local farmers and wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties.
Can New York compost? Without a doubt. By setting up an easy to use system, investing in teaching New Yorkers what goes in the compost bin and celebrating incremental successes, New York will be well on its way to making composting second nature, too.
- Bloomberg plans to get New Yorkers composting (treehugger.com)
- 100 Restaurants Sign Up to Recycle Compost in NYC (sustainablebusiness.com)