Submitted by Kim Maltempo of Davidson County
When I first saw TN Environmental Council’s, Come, Post Your Compost, challenge, I immediately knew that I had to take part. We had been informally composting at our house since we moved in, 1.5 years ago, thanks to a small, steel composting bin that had been given to us as a housewarming gift. And, by “informally,” I mean collecting food scraps in the bin and taking it out to a little area we cleared off and just dumping them there. No real pen or parameters around our composting, just throwing it in a pile to see what would happen. A true scientific experiment at work. So, outdoors, the campaign allowed me to formalize my composting adventure – getting some chicken wire and erecting an enclosure, taking time to add in yard waste, attempting to create layers, and making the effort to turn the pile on some sort of infrequent schedule. Indoors, the campaign made my husband and I more cognizant about making sure our non-meat and non-dairy food scraps were making it into the compost bin every time, sometimes causing me to dive into the garbage can to rescue that avocado peel that was accidentally thrown away. Plus, in case you didn’t notice from the Pumpkin selfie contest, I love a good competition.
In addition to personal reasons for joining the campaign, there was also a professional reason. I work for the Greater Nashville Regional Council (GNRC), an organization that assists local communities in the 13 counties and 52 cities of Middle TN with the development of plans and programs that guide growth and development, working toward the long-term livability of the region in which we live. We look at planning efforts and projects from a big picture, regional impact scale, serving as a convener of local governments to come together and develop solutions to large issues that will impact the entire region, such as population growth, economic development activities, transportation and infrastructure challenges, affordable housing, and most recently, solid waste. What we put into the garbage, where its final resting place is, and the journey that it takes from our garbage cans to a landfill is sometimes a process that we, as busy humans, take for granted. But, around the region, local leaders have begun to become increasingly concerned about the capacity, lifespan, and operating costs of current landfills, limitations of meaningful recycling programs, and the lack of coordination among neighboring communities regarding this issue.
As an organization, we are working with these leaders and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to address the above concerns and to build support for a process and framework for a regional solid waste plan. Viewing this issue from a regional lens will hopefully increase ongoing collaboration and effectiveness to plan for future solid waste facilities as demand continues to outpace capacity, increase education and marketing of services to residents and businesses, and create more streamlined and economical recycling programs across the region. This all can’t happen in a vacuum though. Everyone plays a part in reducing and diverting waste heading to landfills. That’s why the Come, Post Your Compost, campaign is so important. No matter how insignificant you think your contribution is, the less food scraps and yard waste going into the garbage helps to combat the strain being placed upon our landfills. So, please keep on composting!