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Composting Food Waste

03/11/24  |  Rebecca Taplin

We at Liz & Ellie Local help people buy and sell homes in the Camberville and Greater Boston areas, but we’re also intent on doing our part to keep the planet as a whole–well–whole. What’s on our minds these days is food; grocery bills are skyrocketing, and the word is spreading that food waste in our landfills isn’t just smelly, it’s bad news. If we reduce food waste, it’s good for our wallet and our conscience; but it's also one of the easiest and effective ways we can tackle climate change head-on. Let’s start with a quick question: 

Which gas does food waste emit when it ends up in a landfill–and how potent is it?


     a. Carbon dioxide. That’s the only greenhouse gas, right? Right? And I planted a tree the other day so we’re good.

     b. Food waste doesn’t emit gasses. Humans and cows do.

     c. Methane. Yes, cows “emit” methane, but so do landfills with food waste in them. And methane has 28 times the global warming potential as Carbon dioxide–and after about twelve years, it breaks down into water and...Carbon dioxide. Sigh…


That was a pretty easy multiple choice question, right? Hopefully you chose c. If you didn’t (and maybe even if you did), read this article from UC Davis in California. Based on this article and our other research, we’ve put together two simple strategies you can start using today to reduce food waste and methane emissions.


Produce less food waste in the first place

When we waste food, we're not just throwing away leftovers. We're also wasting all the energy, nutrients, and water that went into producing that food. It's like tossing out all the hard work that went into growing, harvesting, and transporting those ingredients. 



  1. Plan your meals. Many households do this together, so they choose meals that everyone wants to eat and only buy what is needed for the week.
  2. Store your food properly so your food stays fresh. This article by the FDA gives excellent information.
  3. Use the FIFO rule: First in, first out. If you bought ricotta on Monday and cheddar on Friday, use the ricotta first. This prevents unexpected spoilage, saving you money and hassle.
  4. Use leftovers creatively. Vegetables can be added to soups or stir-fries, and stale bread can be transformed into croutons or breadcrumbs. Steak or chicken can be cut smaller, marinated and added to a rice bowl.


Compost your food waste. Yes, even meat, cheese, and bones (if you use a composting service).

Instead of sending food waste to landfills where it emits harmful greenhouse gasses, divert it to composting facilities where it's transformed into something non-toxic and even helpful. In some municipalities, food waste becomes lovely black compost, which helps residents’ plants grow lushly. In Cambridge, curbside compost collection picks up a whopping 85,000 pounds of food waste every week–then turns it into clean energy! That's a lot of banana peels and coffee grounds being turned into something truly valuable.



  1. Take advantage of your city’s compost service (or urge your elected officials to start one). Here’s the link to Cambridge’s fantastic (FREE) compost program.
  2. Compost at home if you have space and time. You can’t put anything meat or dairy-related in a home compost, but you can put grass clippings, leaves, and any fruits or vegetables. Learn about home composting here.
  3. Sign up with a private compost service. Bootstrap and Black Earth are two popular companies active in the Greater Boston area.
  4. Don’t use your sink disposal! It wastes water and energy, and causes sewer backups.


And, speaking of compost, have you noticed that there aren't as many households composting on your street as you'd like? Well, that's where you come in! Spread the word about the benefits of composting to your friends, family, and neighbors. Together, we can make composting the norm in our community and reduce our impact on the planet.

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