Thanks to the efforts of the Zero Waste Committee, the town of Wilton is learning a lot this week about how to drive positive change when it comes to protecting our planet. Wilton’s children are likely one step ahead of the adults, thanks to the Zero Waste sustainability programming that’s been rolling out across all four schools since 2017. One element of this program has been to introduce composting to a much wider audience.

Wilton’s Zero Waste Schools program carries the slogan, “Warriors Won’t Waste,” and is designed to significantly reduce the amount of waste — primarily from the cafeterias — that would otherwise be sent to landfills or for incineration.

Zero Waste Bins at Middlebrook

Zero Waste bins have been installed in the cafeterias at all four Wilton public schools, instructing students how to sort their lunch leftovers by dumping liquids, recycling materials, donating unopened items and whole fruits, and putting ALL food in the compost bin. Anything left is wastewhich goes to a landfill.

Giving new life to food scraps–through composting–is pretty exciting when one considers that 40% of America’s food goes to waste in landfills and incinerators. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, this amounts to $165 billion a year in waste, taking a toll on the country’s water resources and significantly increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

“When food waste goes into the landfill, it sits and rots and creates methane. When food waste is burned in an incinerator, it creates carbon dioxide,” explains Heather Priest, who teaches culinary science and sustainability at Middlebrook Middle School.

The release of these harmful gases from both options damage the earth.

“Composting is a really great way to put food scraps back into the earth and turn it into nutrient-rich soil,” adds Priest.

Interested in composting but don’t really understand how it works or where to start? GOOD Morning Wilton spoke to Priest onsite at Middlebrook, and received a live demonstration of  the composting that’s taking place at school:

Composters can be purchased online anywhere. Priest recommends going online and reading gardening blogs and looking on YouTube for some tips. “There is a plethora of information out there on composting and a lot of experts who are eager to share their knowledge.”

As are local authorities. Zero Waste Committee member Tammy Thornton says members of the Wilton Garden Club are a great resource for composting as is Patrice Gillespie from Wilton Go Green

If bringing home an open pallet or one of the barrel composters does not seem like a feasible option, it’s still possible to do the right thing and help the environment.

Curbside Compost in Ridgefield, the same company that collects food scraps from Middlebrook each week, offers a residential service. They provide a 6-gallon pail (with lid) to use in the collection of your food scraps, and each week they collect the pail and replace it with a clean pail. While Middlebrook is currently set up to compost fruits, vegetables, and egg shells, with Curbside Compost, Wilton residents can compost meat, bones, fish, eggs, dairy products, and more.The company currently helps divert more than 2,000 pounds of food scraps from incinerators and landfills every week to New England Compost in Danbury, where it is turned into quality compost for local gardeners, farmers, and landscapers.

Deciding to compost is an action that is fairly easy to take and one which will have a positive impact. When you decide to compost at home you:

  • help to create compost, which increases soil moisture, combats erosion, supports essential soil bacteria, controls for weeds and stabilizes soil ph
  • support the creation and local use of compost rather than artificial fertilizer
  • reduce the energy being used to incinerate trash
  • reduce emissions that come from the traditional processing plant
  • reduce ash that must be placed in the landfill
  • reduce methane gas, a greenhouse gas which is created from organics which are disposed in landfills.

Source: Curbside Compost

And as the Zero Waste Committee says, “the key is for all of us to try to make changes which will reduce food waste and ultimately, what ends up in a landfill. It’s a win-win for our earth and for our kids’ futures!”