Butte Environmental Council provides a 5-gallon bucket for home composting. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I love reusing food. I’m not talking about eating leftovers, though, I do love that, too.

Composting. It’s something we should all be doing. It’s all about turning waste into something good.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, “U.S. food waste is estimated to be 30 to 40 percent of the food supply, and Californians throw away approximately 6 million tons of food waste annually.”

We have the power to keep that waste from reaching a landfill.

While California has mandated garbage companies institute composting programs for customers, that reality has not come to Chico or many other places. At the end of February mom and I began participating in Butte Environment Council’s composting program.

Food scraps from one household to be used as compost in Chico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It is amazing how light our garbage is now in terms of quantity and weight. No longer are all of our veggie and fruits scraps going in the garbage.

An item I didn’t realize is compostable is dryer lint. Tea bags are also accepted. So are grains. I’ve never composted any of those before.

BEC’s website said the program diverts more than 500 pounds of food waste each month. The compostable material is distributed to three composting sites for community gardens: Oak Way (Butte Environmental Council), Vecino (Butte County Local Food Network) and St. Timothy’s Community Garden.

They ask for a $5 donation each week, which is fine by me. Saves me the time of having to deliver the waste to the collection site. After all, BEC is a nonprofit operated mostly by volunteers.

Eons ago when I lived in Sonoma County I composted at my house. Loved, loved, loved it. I had a huge garden which is where the rich humus got integrated with the soil.

When I did a story for Lake Tahoe News in 2010 about Full Circle Compost in Minden, Nev., I could have talked to the owner for days. What he was doing was fascinating. Craig Witt is still with company, but no longer owns it.

When I was in Palm Springs last year my friends had a small bucket of sorts on the counter with a compostable bag in it. Those bags work. The process was starting before I emptied it into the big bin in the complex. Oops. I quickly learned I need to empty it before it’s full.

They aren’t my only friends who compost. When in Todos Santos at other friends’ I follow their lead when it comes to putting produce items into a 5-gallon bucket that will eventually become a soil amendment in their garden.

Composting is such an easy way to do something healthy for the environment. I actually get excited seeing the 5-gallon composting bucket filling up and the garbage bin not getting much use.

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