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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Don't Waste That Food Waste, or When Good Things Happen to Bad Doodles (for the Week of Aug. 17, 2008)

August 13, 2008

Q. Dear Twig: OK, so what's a better thing to do with food waste — be it old fish tacos, be it stale Cheez Doodles, be it bags of muffin stumps — than bury it in a landfill?

A. "Be it"? OK then. The answer is it be way better to turn it into compost. At home, for example, you can save your family's food scraps in a bucket with a lid. Then, every few days, you can haul them outside and dump them into a compost bin (if you have one). They'll turn into super-great plant food.

In the country, you can do like my human friend Hornbeam does. He gives all his food scraps to his chickens. They give him fresh eggs in trade.

A city can start a curbside collection program. Or a drop-off center. For not only food scraps but yard waste and paper. Places like Mackinac Island, Michigan, and Seattle, Washington, have already done it.

"These (compostable) materials amount to half of our discarded resources," says the Web site of a project called COOL 2012. (The name stands for Compostable Organics Out of Landfills by 2012.) "When buried in a landfill, they don't just break down as they would in nature or in a compost pile. They decompose anaerobically, without oxygen, and in the process become the number-one source of human-caused methane and a major player in climate change."



P.S. Composting science at my home, Ohio State:


Don't have a compost bin? Find simple plans, plus backyard composting basics, in Ohio State University Extension's "Composting at Home" fact sheet,

COOL 2012 ( is a joint effort of the GrassRoots Recycling Network, BioCycle magazine, and a non-profit group called Eco-Cycle.

See examples of community collection programs at

Read about Ohio's grant program for food-scrap composting at

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas — a gas in the atmosphere that adds to global warming.

About This:

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College — is a weekly feature for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. It's written at, to and for a 4th-grade reading level.

For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691,, (330) 263-3776.

Online at

Kurt Knebusch