Shortly after moving to Westport in August 2020, a mom received an email from a class mother at Greens Farms Elementary, her kids’ new school.
“Who wants to be part of Sustainable GFS?” it read.
The woman had been looking for a group of environmentally-minded folks. She jumped right in, and has been an avid member since.
She is no ordinary Westporter (if there is such a thing). The woman is Sophie B. Hawkins — the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, and a longtime environmental activist.
Now, she’s helping Sustainable Westport get the word out about food scrap collection (aka “composting”). The other day, she told them:
I did not know how much recycling I could do. But Westport makes it easy to deal with trash (other than when I drove up and down the Sherwood Island Connector looking for “the Dump,” which hardly stands out).
Now I take our food scraps to the separate collection site at the Dump (aka “transfer station”). I have found a great deal of emotional reward from recycling and by managing our trash and food waste.
That’s my way of honoring the privilege of where I live by being more responsible. It’s been mentally healthy for me. And you don’t have to be a gardener to get a lot of reward for sending your food scraps off to be composted.
Paying attention to our household trash has led me to shop differently, cook more, purchase without plastic wrap wherever possible, and get creative about avoiding waste of any kind. My blue bin is much lighter.
And those plastic bags that bread and other food items come in: I now wash them out, drape them over an old pair of drumsticks standing in playdough, then reuse them.
We have a “no plastic water bottles” policy in our house. I am a real gorilla on it — I mean none, even away from the house. We all got used to it.
Traveling is a challenge when it comes to managing waste, but my band and I have started buying food, carrying utensils and enjoying impromptu picnics on the road.
The pandemic has led us to some very environmentally sound and fun ways of traveling. On my touring rider I ask for no plastic in the dressing room and on stage — only filtered water and healthy containers.
I am an ardent environmentalist and activist. It’s a prominent feature of my career. I give 100 percent of my royalties from some songs to Waterkeeper Alliance, and rescue animals from catastrophic events. I’m hands on in every way. It’s a primary feature of my career, life and social media.
I believe more Westporters would become committed to food waste reduction and recycling if they knew how easy it becomes. Just jump in without worrying about the details. Once you start, you won’t want to stop.
As for actually collecting food scraps: I use a mixing bowl on my counter. I dump the food scraps in it, and cover with a nice plate. When that’s full I dump it into a small aluminum trash can outside my kitchen door.
I take it to the transfer station every 3 or 4 days, when it’s full.
I try to just model the behavior, and remind my kids to recycle and clear their plates. I don’t ask them to compost their leftovers, because in general I eat or scrape them.
The kids come with me to the transfer station. They help me clean the house. It’s a mellow approach.
My advice is to just use what you have in the house to collect your waste. Try it for one week. Notice how easy it is, and how good you feel doing it. Don’t buy new gear or become crazy.
I noticed how little garbage I have now. It’s uplifting to know I’m helping reduce toxic waste for our planet, for all of us.
Sustainable Westport invites everyone to join Sophie B. Hawkins in the Zero Food Waste Challenge (click here for details).
Sustainable Westport will be on Instagram Live this Monday (May 9, 6:30 p.m.) with WestportMoms. Follow @SustainableWestport to learn how to compost at home.
As for Sophie B. Hawkins: Right now, she’s touring. She’ll be local this spring and summer. For more information, click here.