Food Waste in North Carolina

My brother is a picky eater, so at times whole meals go to waste. I also see people throwing away extra food and leftovers from parties without even giving it a second thought. All of this food waste goes to landfills, and it releases methane gas, which speeds up climate change. According to a 2012 study by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, each household in the state produces more than seven pounds of food waste each week—that’s more than 364 pounds of waste per household every year! This is a huge problem. The wasted food is taking up space in landfills when it could be composted instead, but not everyone has the option to compost.

Some people can afford composting services, and others choose to maintain their own compost, but what about the people who can’t do either of these things? Many people don’t have the time or space to maintain their own compost. It’s great that some people do it, but it takes a lot of effort and energy. As for the composting pickup service, it costs money and isn’t available everywhere. Some people can’t afford it, and others can’t access the service because of where they live. My family falls into this category: we would like to use the service, but we don’t live in an area where it’s available. Yet there still might be a way for people like us to access composting services. My family reached out to a local company and asked about bringing the service to our area. They said that if we could get 500 households from our area to sign a document saying they were interested in compost pickup, they would consider servicing our area.

This doesn’t completely solve the problem though. There are still people who can’t afford it or can’t find companies who are willing to pick up in their area. What we need is a free public composting service throughout all of North Carolina that would work the same way as trash and recycling pickup (paid for with taxes) so everyone would be able to compost, thus decreasing the amount of waste sitting in landfills and the amount of methane gas produced. I could organize letter writing events to make this happen, where many people write and talk about this issue to influence N.C. senators and others in power. I could also spread the word about it to make more people aware of the problem. One way is by screening films about the issue. At my school, I watched a film about composting, and it had a big effect on me.

This isn’t some minor issue that will just go away. It’s a big issue that will keep growing until we take action to fix it. I hope to have an effect toward fixing this problem in my community.

Read more: Student Voices Project 2020

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