One of the most imperative tasks ahead of us is weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Energy efficient retrofits, removing natural gas from home heating and cooking, and finding ways to get around beyond gas-powered vehicles are top priorities. These actions are very impactful but also take considerable planning and financial commitment.

There is another impactful action we can add to our list that is cheap, easy, and immediate– reducing food waste. According to a January 1, 2023 New York Times article, ”In the United States, food waste is responsible for twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as commercial aviation, leading some experts to believe that reducing food waste is one of our best shots at combating climate change.”

  • 30% of our trash is easily avoidable food waste, and an easy reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

30% of the trash placed in Newton’s residential trash carts is food waste. The percentage of food waste is even higher if you add in food waste thrown out by restaurants and other commercial facilities–a lot of greenhouse gas emissions that Newton generates just by putting food into the trash every day. Avoiding generating excess food and composting food scraps are easy and cheap ways to make an impact on climate change.

  • Shopping smarter and composting food waste also controls rising trash costs.

In addition, diverting food waste would also reduce the amount of trash we are throwing out, and this saves money. Newton’s waste disposal contract with the Wheelabrator Millbury incinerator will expire in 2027, and the cost of any future contracts will almost certainly be significantly higher. In addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, reducing and diverting food waste is key to controlling costs.

  • Avoiding greenhouse gas emissions from food waste is cheap, easy, and immediate.

Reduce – Prevent waste by checking your refrigerator and pantry before shopping and make a list of the items you need.

Reuse – Don’t forget the leftovers in the refrigerator. They make easy lunches. Many dishes can also be frozen and thawed later (label with the date).

Recycle – Unusable scraps and spoiled food should be composted in your yard or through a pickup service. Ten percent 10% of Newton households already use the city partner Black Earth composting service. (The cost is $59.99 for six months of weekly pickup and will drop to $49.99 with 2300 more subscribers.) Newton residents can also drop off food waste for free at the Resource Recovery Center (115 Rumford Avenue, Newton).

Advocate – Tell the mayor and city councilors that organic waste pickup should be a city-provided service just like recycling and yard waste pickup so that composting food scraps will be convenient, and all residents will have an equal opportunity to participate.