Picky eating leads to rich soil in New York

| June 30, 2014

Let’s face it: Kids can be awfully particular about what they eat—especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. That fact of life leads to an awful lot of produce winding up in the garbage can at schools across the nation.

Sick of seeing apples going to waste, the Big Apple (where else?) is doing something about it.

school composting

In New York  City, 230 schools currently participate in a school composting program. From woodleywonderworks.

In New York City, 230 schools currently participate in a school composting program. (That is, a program in which schools encourage composting—not a program that composts schools.)

The initiative started two years ago when parents in the affluent Upper West Side of Manhattan decided to take action. By this fall, it is expected that close to 500 schools across all five boroughs of New York City will have similar programs. Ultimately, the hope is that all 1,300 New York City schools will participate.

According to a report by Al Baker in the New York Times, the goal is threefold: 1) “help the environment”, 2) “instill a sense of conservation in schoolchildren”, and 3) save money.

That last part is not to be overlooked. For each ton dumped in landfills, New York City schools pay approximately $93. The net cost of composting is up to $50 less than that, because the sale of the end product offsets the processing cost.

Of course, one could argue that schools could also concentrate on reducing wasted food in the first place, but you can’t exactly tell schools not to offer healthy produce — and if you’ve ever tried to force-feed a banana to an unwilling first-grader, you’ll know that offering composting might be a great option after all.

New York City is taking the composting a step further by bulk purchasing compostable plates with districts in other metro areas. The main problem now is the learning curve inherent in introducing a multi-option recycling/composting program. Baker reports confusion at one New York City school, where students mistakenly throw recyclable items in the compost bin, compostable items in the recycling bin, and actual trash anywhere it’s not supposed to go. Baker noted a “‘green team’ of students — wearing latex gloves or holding plastic talons [picking] out wayward junk.”

Even a painful learning curve seems a small price to pay for reducing the massive amount of food waste that occurs in schools without composting programs. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: New York City is a place of trendsetting, so here’s hoping the rest of the nation catches on.

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Category: Blog Landing Page, Food, Recycling programs

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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