Student Views: Find new uses for trash
March 5, 2021
A verdant forest flooding with life. A sun-baked land contrasted by the cool, calm sea. A fluttering flame of oranges, yellows, and reds. And a glittering wonderland crafted from diamonds. This is the land we were given, an immense, majestic being, now choking and sputtering on our waste.
Over half of all material that could be composted is going to landfills instead, where it sits until it finally rots away, releasing gasses which suffocate the earth, and us along with it. If this waste were composted, many of these gasses would not be produced, space would be freed up in landfills, compost could be used in gardens and, surprisingly, employment would increase.
In an Institute for Local Self-Reliance report called “Pay Dirt,” it was found in one instance that composting facilities employed more people per 10,000 tons than incinerators and landfills combined. This means that not only is composting better for the environment, not only is it a way to reuse the waste we would otherwise never see again, it also gives us more jobs.
The fact of the matter is, though, that many people can’t, won’t, or don’t know how to compost. An example of those that can’t compost are those that are constrained by time management. I have seen this even in my family, where it is sometimes hard to find time to leave the house and drop off our compost bin. This is especially true for parents of younger children with a distance learning schedule, when the kids are in constant need of reminding of online meetings, homework deadlines, and other general school hysterics. My solution to this is a compost pickup. If compost were picked up just like garbage and recycling, it would allow many more people to compost.
The second group is those who won’t compost. For these people, composting doesn’t benefit them. Why would they start a habit that doesn’t make any noticeable difference in their lives? Why go out of their way to compost when they don’t have a garden to use it in? These are completely valid arguments, and I believe they should be considered. If these people were compensated for their time, rewarding them for going out of their way to make the world a cleaner place, many people would happily go along with composting.
Last on my list are those people that would love to start composting, but don’t know how. To them, I suggest research. Search online for guides and tips, look for a way to compost in whatever situation you may be in. One site I found immensely helpful was Western Lake Superior Sanitary District. In the top right of their webpage you can find a tab labelled “Contact Us,” where it lists the many ways you can get in touch with your questions.
Last year was a series of catastrophes, one after another. A year where fate itself seemed to be roiling, raging, and lashing out. As we step into this new year, let us all work together to heal our world, one step at a time.
Sage Fernquist is a junior at Wrenshall. He has always loved nature and has grown even closer to it on his hikes in the forest during the pandemic.