Environment Work & Career

Composting at Work: A Clever Solution to the Food Waste Epidemic

Composting at Work- A Clever Office Solution to the Food Waste Epidemic
Samantha Donaldson

Pope Francis once said, “Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.” 

America is the leading nation in many industries and modern endeavors — however, one of the most unsettling areas where we still retain a number one spot is among food waste across the globe.

With over 1.3 billion tons of food waste in America yearly, averaging out to 40 percent of our food intake as a nation hitting the bottom of a trash can rather than our stomachs, this mass epidemic remains one of the most undiscussed yet serious issues of modern society.

Every box of leftovers and each meal we can’t finish at a restaurant may seem like nothing at the time, but these numbers add up in the long run. With businesses and employees alike looking for more eco-friendly alternatives to past routines, eliminating food waste may just be a great place to start for the improving the environmental impact of your workplace.

Composting at Work - A Clever Solution to the Food Waste Epidemic

What is “The Food Waste Epidemic”?

Many of us toss food in the trash without a care in the world — perhaps due to the fact that these items are perceived to be biodegradable and, therefore, harmless to the environment — the impact that these food items have on our atmosphere is far more serious than you may think.

When food is thrown away, it is then sent to landfills to rot and biodegrade. However, this waste actually emits a harmful greenhouse gas pollutant known as methane, with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide as it rots. Within a year, this food waste will create 135 million tons of methane gas, which will take over 12 years before the traces of it in the atmosphere are gone.

Furthermore, with over 85 million pounds in fast food waste alone and 49 million in the restaurant industry, the “pleasure eating” mentality that America has developed only continues to create said food waste on a daily basis. Even grocery stores are guilty of this waste, with 43 billion pounds of food waste yearly averaging out to nearly one-third of any grocery store’s food stock being wasted every year.

Composting at Work - The Solution to the Food Waste Epidemic

On top of this, the food that is being wasted is also extremely costly likewise leading to over $197.7 billion lost yearly from American consumers. Despite this massive waste of quality food, over 42.2 million Americans still reside in food insecure households. Although these statistics may seem shocking, multiple companies and communities have begun to recognize this massive epidemic, and have started to create effective programs and routines to help prevent waste in their own neighborhoods and offices.

One of these projects that is quite common and useful is developing a compost bin outside of your office for lunch and snack leftovers in order to ensure they are not harming the environment, and are also being turned into nutrient-rich soil, which can then be delivered to local farms and gardens in your area.

Visual Step-by-Step Guide to Bokashi Composting

Bokashi Composting is a practical idea for the office. This one sits in the Eco Warrior Princess office.

How can you get your community involved and show support to local gardens and farms trying to make an impact on environmental pollution as well? The best way to do this is by creating a composting plan that best suits your company, and by informing your fellow employees, as well as your community, about the many benefits of composting for the environment and the reduction of food waste as a whole.

What is composting?

Compost is decomposed organic matter that can be used to enrich soil and create a better environment for plants to grow in. Over the last few years, composting has become an extremely popular way to deal with food waste and decompose things like peels, egg shells, vegetables, and paper plates. But it also creates a wonderful base for anyone who likes to garden or owns a farm.

Related Post: So You Think You Can Farm?

Now there are five types of composting, and determining which ones works best for you is a great way to get started in creating a composting initiative at the office. Types of composting include:

  • vermicomposting,
  • on-site composting
  • aerated windrow composting,
  • aerated static pile composting, and
  • in-vessel composting.

Related Post: How to Set Up Vermicomposting at Your Office or Workplace

Composting at Work- A Great Solution to the Food Waste Epidemic

How does composting help our environment?

Composting is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gases such as methane. In fact, in many ways, a compost bin is a lot like a personal carbon monoxide detector, but without the wiring and batteries attached.

In addition, composting can help to reduce the amount of paper being wasted in the United States. The average office worker waste over 700 pounds of paper yearly, and most of this is sent to landfills rather than recycled. Therefore, by even putting a few pieces of the paper you use daily in a composting bin rather than a trash can, you can help to reduce the amount of paper waste in landfills.

Furthermore, by using compost in gardens and farms locally, you can promote the growth of crops and trees, which help produce oxygen and remove CO2 from our atmosphere.

Thus, composting is not only a highly effective way to reduce waste in the office, but also a wonderful way to promote environmental awareness in your community as well.

Related Post: A Step-By-Step Guide to Bokashi Composting for Urban City Dwellers

Benefits of implementing a composting program in the workplace.

Many companies have turned to eco-friendly alternatives not only because it’s part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) but because it’s good for the bottom line too.

Some benefits include:

With the dawn of the millennial workforce upon us, most millennial employees are searching for companies that give them a sense of purpose and allow them to make an impact in their community. 

Composting at Work- A Clever Solution to the Food Waste Epidemic

Related Post: Why Gen Z Will Lead the Ethical Fashion Revolution

By proposing both a composting bin and the delivery of compost to local gardens and farms, you can actually help your company improve on their retention analytics, and also give individuals a greater sense of purpose in the workplace.

Furthermore, by delivering the compost monthly to farms and gardens, you are also promoting and supporting local agriculture.

And by contacting local schools and organizations to help with the endeavor, your company is also promoting environmental awareness in youth which is looked upon favourably by members of your local community.

Lastly, by connecting your employees to the community they live in, you can create lasting friendships and contacts between multiple organizations and volunteers to build a stronger and more connected community.

Food for thought.

It’s not enough to start a composting initiative at your office. You may need to encourage workers to use it. By promoting incentives for the amount of recycling the company does, you can not only accurately keep track of your carbon footprint in the office, but also ensure that employees are trying their best in the process.

Keep your team engaged in the workplace composting initiative by frequently runnings contests and competitions offering prizes and other incentives that directly tie to the amount of food waste being transitioned into compost. Just remember, if you make it fun, it will feel less like work! 

With environmental consciousness on the rise, implementing a composting initiative at your workplace is a great way to save money, promote healthy lifestyle, increase employee engagement and establish a good reputation within your community.

For more tips on how to create a sustainability-driven work environment, check out our post ‘10 Ways to Green Your Workplace’.

We want to know: Are you considering starting an office composting program? Or have you already got one in place? Feel free to share your tips, advice and stories in the comment section below!

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About the author

Samantha Donaldson

Samantha Donaldson

Samantha Donaldson is a freelance journalist in Boise, Idaho as well as the owner of Idaho's largest music magazine, Boise Pulse Music, and the founder of Boise Food Salvage, an organization dedicated to taking food waste and turning it into amazing meals for homeless shelters.

2 Comments

  • That’s great! This is what I need. It’s very easy to look for raw green materials (the “brown” is so difficult a bit) . Thanks for your exciting article.

    • Absolutely! Also–definitely check out my newest article on ways to transform old office supplies because I talk about turning supplies we’d typically throw away into green alternatives including compost bins!!!

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