Return your leftovers to the farm

A friend and I talk alot about “closing the loop”, and how important it is to our future. Talking about it so much though, I take it for granted that everyone knows what closing the loop means.

The closest definition on the internet that I’ve found is:

Completing the recycling cycle by buying products that were made with recycled materials.

Closing the loop is the idea that we can find the next best and highest use for everything we buy by making conscious decisions about where we buy it, where we send it, and the contents of what it is we buy.

Take your groceries for example. Let’s say you don’t really care whether you buy organic or conventionally-farmed oranges and avocados. You just eat them. Well, what do you do with that orange peel or avocado seed once you’ve made orange juice or guacamole? Most people throw those things in the trash, or, if they have a garden, they may put it in their dirt or compost bin to help their garden grow.

Last April, Recology took a major step in shaping the future of the resource recovery industry. The name change is not superficial. We are doing what we’ve always done–for example, we started the organics recycling program in 1996. Changing our name from Norcal Waste Systems to Recology was more than anything another example of our desire to change the way Americans think about their garbage.

The company has been pushing for people like you and me to realize that when we separate our leftovers from our regular trash, they can be composted. The compost can be used by farms throughout the country to grow more food. When you buy and eat food that’s been grown by farmers using compost, and then return your leftovers to them as compost, you have “closed the loop”.

A Fox News blog post about our food waste collection and recycling program nicely illustrates the concept of closing the loop.

Closing the loop is an idea that has to do with thinking systematically in terms of cause and effect. It also has to do with paying attention to the feedback we get from our environment through observation, the news, and data–whether scientific or operational. When we start o ask ourselves what will happen to the things we buy for Thanksgiving dinner, it starts to become clearer that putting food scraps in a landfill doesn’t make sense–not when there are farms out there waiting to fertalize the soil with the compost they need to feed you and me.

*There’s a closing the loop curriculum that the California Integrated Waste Management Board has put together for K-6 graders. Share it with your kids, young friends, or cousins.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *