Compost Meets Competition at Columbia Secondary

It can be difficult to convince yourself to voluntarily jump into a freezing cold lake. And you don’t have any clothes on. And there are piranhas in the water.

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating, but that’s how I felt as a shy girl contemplating how to single-handedly convince the kids at my school to take a step toward earth-friendliness, outside of our school’s questionable recycling system.

Freezing fruit and vegetable scraps seems like a no-brainer once you know a little bit about it. It’s a way of storing stuff that would have been thrown away for later, so that it can be eventually composted.

Freezer Composting Image
Valuable Shelf Space: Frozen Organic Matter Headed for Composting

One extra bag in the freezer will keep lots of smelly things out of the bag in the kitchen trash can. Over time, and if a lot of people do it, freezing scraps can keep a lot out of landfills. For example, bananas are the nations most popular fruit. I eat one every day.  All those banana peels, from all those people, every single day, take up a lot of space in those far off places where all our trash goes. Not to mention, once all those peels get there and start to decompose without enough oxygen, they release methane gas. Methane gas is a greenhouse gas with much more potent climate change potential than carbon dioxide.

I’ll admit: even though I’m terribly spoiled and there is a beautiful farmers market a 5-minute walk away from my house, I hadn’t gotten around to saving our food scraps until about two months ago. I had burned the dickens out of my toast, and couldn’t bear to throw away what had been perfectly good food until my absent-minded mistake. I put it back in the empty bread bag and put it in the freezer.

Ever since, I’ve been trying to convince my family to put their apple cores into the bag, and it’s actually been going all right. However, I will concede that on several occasions I have been forced to take one out of the trashcan and put it in the right place. The things I do for healthy dirt.

Anyway, how do I get my classmates and their families to do the same thing? I initially thought I could simply bribe kids. Deliver frozen food scraps to the farmers market, and I’ll bake you cookies. And them my friends said: Jamie,  I hope you have a heck of a lot of flour.

I was then reminded of another strong motivator, competition. Combined, the compost raffle was born.

Composting Competition image
Columbia Secondary’s composting competition

Jamie is an alumnus of Sustainable Summer, and a guest blogger at Stay tuned for a follow up blog post on her initiative to start a composting competition at her school.