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Submitted by Anne.Bijur@ver… on

Separating Food Scraps from the Trash – A New Habit

Putting food scraps in the bucket
Adding coffee grounds to the kitchen bucket

Jessica has been separating her food scraps from the trash for about a year. She learned about composting when she lived in Chicago and had friends who composted in their backyards, but she lived in a condo and had no outdoor space of her own.

When she moved to Vermont, a local friend who was passionate about waste reduction told her about food scrap drop-off and got her interested in learning more. Jessica went to recycling and compost workshops, which she highly recommends and thinks should be mandatory for all Vermonters, and then started bringing her food scraps to a compost facility.

Reducing her Carbon Footprint and Trash at the Same Time

Jessica is always looking for ways to reduce her carbon footprint. She has felt guilty about her impact on climate change and feels good about donating her food scraps so they’re used to make compost instead of creating methane in a landfill. Plus, then she doesn’t have to deal with them!

In the end, separating her food scraps had a big impact on reducing her trash. She used to fill up a kitchen trash bag once a week, now it’s only once a month which means she is definitely paying less for trash now.

Collecting and Dropping Off Food Scraps

Food scrap drop-off at VT Compost Company
Food Scrap Drop-Off Site

Jessica uses a small bucket that she got for free at a composting workshop to collect her food scraps in the kitchen. A friend gave her a 5-gallon bucket that she keeps on her balcony and empties the kitchen bucket into it until it’s full.

“I thought it would be so disgusting but it’s really not bad. It doesn’t smell up my place. I rinse out both buckets and used to occasionally add baking soda to keep down odor but that was only when I had to keep the big bucket inside my apartment. Now that I have a balcony and can keep it out there, it’s not an issue. I go to Vermont Compost company every 3 or 4 weeks, and there’s no charge to drop off food scraps. It’s close to my home and easy because I can go anytime, there are no hours. It’s a drive-up site where there are three totes for dropping off food scraps.”

Reducing Food Waste

Since moving to Vermont, Jessica has become more conscientious about waste and attributes that to being around others who care very much. She has been inspired to try to use all of her perishable food before it goes bad. Once she was telling a friend about a curry she likes to make and mentioned that it uses half a can of coconut milk. Her friend asked what she did with the other half of the can and she didn’t have an answer, meaning it probably languished in the back of her fridge until it had to be thrown out. Now she plans ahead and makes a soup with the remaining coconut milk.

What would you say to encourage someone to start separating food scraps from the trash?

“If you’re not actually composting and just donating food scraps, there’s no additional time burden. It reduces the smell of your trash and you don’t have to take out trash as much. You’re contributing to a better society. There’s really no downside.”

“One tip – almost everything in the produce section of the grocery has a sticker on it. Don’t forget to take off the sticker! It’s best if you remove it as soon as you come home from store. And another benefit of using a drop-off site is that you can put bones and oils and everything in your food scrap bucket.”

Dumping food scraps into a larger bucket
...dumped into larger 5-gallon bucket on deck.
Kitchen compost bucket
Kitchen compost bucket...
Bucket with scraps
...full of scraps...


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