This is a response to Bob Stigger’s July 29 viewpoint, “How about a free trial on composting?” We thank him for raising awareness about composting. Unfortunately, he missed the point. He didn’t mention why composting is so important in the first place.

The primary purpose of composting is to divert organic material (e.g. food and yard waste) from landfills to avoid production of methane. Methane (CH4) is a powerful greenhouse gas, which is a significant cause of global warming. Commercial composting is effective in avoiding production and emission of methane from landfills (about 140 pounds of methane per ton of food waste diverted).

In addition to avoiding methane production and reducing our impact on global warming, composted material also has environmental benefits when added to soil to increase organic matter, prevent fertilizer from leaching into groundwater, and it contains micro-organisms that can break down some pollutants. There is a viable commercial market for compost. Composting is a win-win endeavor.

About 20 percent of households participate in the current voluntary opt-in compost program. To increase participation, a brave group of young women who are members of It’s Our Future, an environmental group, is circulating a petition to change the opt-in program to an opt-out program. 

However, maybe now is the time to take the opt-out concept to the next level and provide a compost-for-all service wherein every household (for a small fee) has access to composting. Instead of having a few households pay a “large” price for a “small” impact, every household could pay a small price for a larger impact. 

It is a common good, so we should all have the privilege to participate. Compared to recycling, composting probably has a greater environmental and economic impact.

What we can do: 

Thank Bob Stigger for getting our attention. 

Thank the It’s Our Future group and sign their petition. 

Ask the village to provide a compost-for-all service.

Mac Robinet

Interfaith Green Network

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