Archive for the ‘Composting’ Category

Now Available at C-Stores: The first 100% compostable chip bag!!!

I bought a bag of chips today. I normally try to stay away from these greasy morsels since they are fatty, somewhat unsatisfying, and produce waste when I throw away the bag. I always liked Sun Chips because they are more nutritious and delicious than most brands, but now that Sun Chips has introduced the first 100% compostable chip package, I can’t complain about anything. Amazingly enough, this bag produces almost zero waste all around. Can’t wrap your head around a compostable chip bag? Allow me to elaborate.

The package definitely has a unique texture. The bag feels lighter and crinkles louder than average chip bags, although it still feels fairly sturdy, slick, and strong. I can’t puncture it any easier than most chip bags. The back of the packaging boasts that it was made from 90% renewable, plant-based materials, which allows it to completely break down over 14 weeks into compost under ideal conditions, including a temperature of at least 55 degrees C.

Don’t believe me? Check out this time-lapsed video of the bag breaking down into compost or see the pictures from Sun Chips below.

After six weeks:

After 13 weeks:

A press release explained the bag’s miracle ingredient, a plant-based polymer called PLA:
“PLA is made from lactic acid. Lactic acid is made from dextrose by fermentation. Dextrose is made from starch and starch is made from carbon dioxide and water. Because it’s made with plants that grow annually instead of petroleum (which takes millions of years to form) the impact on greenhouse gases is much lower.”

Think about how much food packaging you throw away every day: Saran wrap, candy wrappers, grocery store produce bags, microwave dinners. Then, consider how nearly everything we purchase, from computer programs to bedsheets, is packaged in plastic. Plastic, which produces one third of our waste, takes an inordinately long time to disintegrate (estimates vary from a thousand to a million years, depending on the plastic), which means we use tons of heat energy and millions of barrels of oil to create all this packaging that simply gets balled up in a landfill, out of sight and out of mind. (Unless it’s dumped into the ocean, where it harms the ecosystem.) I personally wonder if compostable packaging will start a revolution. If chips can be reasonably packaged in this material, then why need we create ANY non-renewably sourced, non-biodegradable packaging?

The compostable bags are now available at Truman’s C-stores. Pick one up next time you are around campus, and tell me what YOU think. And don’t forget to drop it in the compost pile at West Campus Suites or at the University Farm when you’re done!

Read these tips by Sun Chips on how to start your own backyard compost or click here for more info about Sun Chips’ bags.

Save your food scraps, block some greenhouse gases!

If you toss your leftover vegetable peelings and apple cores because you don’t have a garden, reconsider your stance.

Every week, I make my way to the University Farm at La Harpe and Osteopathy with my odor-sealed box of food waste, and I drop my delicious-looking food nippings in a bin far south side on the farm. Thus, my trash literally becomes another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.

I started saving my food for compost last semester, when I lived in the dorms. One day, I just magically realized that if I simply bought a plastic container and saved my apple cores and banana peels, then I would redirect that small amount from becoming landfill waste. Leaving this wonderful organic material to rot in a barren landfill leads to the release of toxic gases (especially methane, which traps 20 times more greenhouse gases than CO2, according to this CNN article). This removes food waste from a natural and dynamic system that saves the farm some fertilizer in the process. I rent a small place off campus and cannot use compost since I have no garden, so the University Farm provides a wonderful outlet for me.

To dump my scraps, I have a sturdy, odor-proof (quite important) plastic container I bought at HyVee, but I know that many other University Farm composters with bigger houses and more roommates invest in a larger container.

You can also support the Compost Project on campus by eating in Ryle hall if you have a meal plan, since for about half the week a member from the compost crew is there to scrapeyour plate for University compost! If you eat in the SUB, take just a moment to empty your waste into the compost bins that are sometimes available.

You can compost pretty much anything that has been alive, including even human hair and nail clippings. But you CANNOT compost meat or dairy products (egg shells, but no eggs).

However, cleaning your plate is probably the most environmentally friendly solution of all. Americans waste A LOT of food—a fourth of it, to be exact. That’s 25.9 million tons. That’s a lot of landfill space and a lot of methane we don’t need.

Check out these links for more details on what you can and cannot compost.

http://vegweb.com/composting/
http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/composting/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting

Photo provided by cambridgema.gov