Think.Eat.Save: 5 Things I’ve Learned About Food Waste While Being a Compost Boy


I admit it. I always look. Every time I pick up my neighbor’s kitchen scraps, I take a peek in the bucket. Here’s 5 things I’ve learned about food waste while slinging buckets here in Traverse City, Michigan. Hopefully you can learn something too to help reduce your foodprint:

1. Not only does the USA waste a lot of food (like 40%!!) but so do my neighbors. You have the regular things like eggshells, banana peels, and coffee grounds. But then you have the crazy things. Like full loaves of bread, an intact pineapple, apples that look good enough to eat, a whole cherry pie and what looked like an entire box of raisin bran. Crazy!

Don’t buy so much people! Lets wage war on food waste. Maybe make a list before you go shopping and think if you’re really going to eat that bunch of spinach before you bring it home. And eat your apples. All of them…core and everything! They’re just too good to waste.

2. You can tell a lot about someone from what’s in their compost bucket. Healthy or not so healthy. Vegetarian, vegan or not so much of a vegetable eater. Gardener, juicer, CSA’er. Clean-plater or not really a left-over eater.

So remember to eat mostly plants and save those veggie scraps to make some vegetable broth. Eat those left overs, and maybe use your juicing pulp to make scones or muffins or bread.

3. My school cafeteria throws a lot of food in the trash. I helped put on a Fantastic Zero Waste Lunch at my school and it went pretty well as we composted all the left over meals but there was way too of food for my pile. I repeat, Way Too Much! I tried to remind my classmates to eat all their lunch. To take what they want but eat what they take but it didn’t go so well. Lots of one bite apples, unfinished pizza slices, untouched carrots from the salad bar, and full cartons of milk.

Unfortunately, it’s not just my school; Eat Some, Waste some at a Boise school but on the upside, some schools are doing a great job; like Mount Washington Elementary. So there is hope!

4. Families with kids seem to have full buckets every week. Many, many half-eaten sandwiches. Loads of moldy left over spaghetti. Piles of things like mum’s veggie casserole that went unseen for days in the back of the fridge. Bucket fulls of wilted greens from salads that were made too big.

Lets get on it parents! Lead by example. Start them young and teach them right with everyone signing on as a lifetime member of the clean plate club!

5. Bucket weight changes with the seasons. Winter’s are light while summer’s are heavy with mostly corn cobs and water melon rinds but also, with what looks like, lots of uneaten food from CSAs. Just too many greens and garlic scapes and Japanese cabbages. Fall’s are full of pumpkins when they really shouldn’t be and spring’s tend to be less than full on average.

Maybe we need a “help-me-with-my vegetables” neighborhood exchange where I could bike unwanted CSA veggies to hungry TC neighbors? And start a pumpkin recycling station in your ‘hood after halloween to save all those jack o’ lanterns from the landfill!

My Dad and I wrote this blog for the UNEP and Tree Hugger contest to win a trip to the World Environment Day event.

If you liked it or learned something, please share, comment, like, retweet and +1 to help spread the word about the problem of food waste.

Thanks and Compost On!

Dad/Pile Turner


8 thoughts on “Think.Eat.Save: 5 Things I’ve Learned About Food Waste While Being a Compost Boy

  1. We apologize if we offended any of our neighbors or customers with this post. It was not our intent to come off as judgmental or preachy. Our customers should be commended for composting their scraps and reducing their waste not criticized for what’s in their bucket. We appreciate all of your support and love you guys for being so awesome and for helping us green TC – Sorry, Dad

  2. I really like your suggestions to your findings, and sharing them in a thoughtful way. It is uncomfortable to admit I can’t always figure out how to use all my CSA veggies, or don’t feel like making up the tomatia salsa. I like your idea of an exchange, or some exciting recipes for those squash, a collection place for food overages sounds good!

  3. Thanks for writing, Mrs. Thatcher. My family also struggles with food waste and it breaks my heart to see those unused veggies go to the pile. We are working on a bike powered, neighborhood CSA and veggie rescue/share program for the spring. It might be a fun and easy way to build community and share those yummy greens!

  4. I recommend those who are in a CSA to dehydrate what they cannot use each week and save it to use during the winter months. My dehydrator runs a lot during the summer, in the fall the cupboards are stocked but by spring we have managed to go through almost all of it….my big challenge is the diakon radishes are the one item difficult to use. But I would dearly love to take someone’s garlic scapes or Japanese cabbage off their hands. Keep up the good work.

  5. You really understand how to express your ideas within the written word. This short article is dead on accurate in my opinion. I agree together with your viewpoints. I hope many readers get to determine this material.

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