Workshops teach people to get down in the dirt with composting

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COLUMBIA – Communities are working to bring awareness to the environmental benefits of composting during International Compost Awareness Week

The City of Columbia is hosting multiple events for residents to learn about and try out composting during the awareness week, which runs May 5 through May 11.

The first event will be a Food Waste Drop-Off on Tuesday. It is a one-day collection event for people to dump their food waste into a designated compost container.

More than 17 percent of the material in Columbia's landfills is food waste, according to a City of Columbia press release. That amounted to 34,000 tons of food waste deposited into landfills in 2017.

According to the press release, Columbia and Boone County residents spent approximately $1,768,000 in 2017 to deposit food waste into landfills. 

Columbia’s Volunteer Program Specialist Jody Cook said food waste is heavier than most other waste, and that it requires more fossil fuels to transport.

Cook helps plan the city’s compost workshops to reduce landfill numbers.

This year, the city plans to hold 24 workshops with residents and businesses.

As part of International Compost Awareness Week, the city will host two free composting workshops on May 11. 

Cook hopes the workshops will inspire residents to try composting.

“We need to open our eyes that it’s not just for gardeners," Cook said. "It is seriously a way that someone can reduce their carbon footprint. And, it’s fun. It’s rewarding. And it’s something the whole family can do.”

The City of Columbia has also planned a compost and recycling tour of the city's commercial composting operation and the material recovery facility on May 11.

Grant Elementary School made its own effort to raise awareness about food waste reduction on May 3.

The elementary school collected waste for an entire week and sorted everything into compostable, recyclable or landfill containers.

Kerry Franz-Quinn’s fifth grade class went through the waste on Friday to learn more about the school’s waste footprint.

“Even though we are digging through trash, I really don’t care," fifth-grader Trinity Nattox said. "It’s helping our world. We’re helping the environment.”

Students compared the finding from May’s audit with their initial audit back in October to see if the school reduced its waste over the course of the 2018-19 school year.

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