Tag Archives: food scrap recycling

Sophie B Hawkins Composts. You Can Too!

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.

Sophie B. Hawkins, and her kids.

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.

Westport’s transfer station does not look like a dump.

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.

The transfer station offers a food scrap drop-off site.

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.

A food scrap recycling starter kit.

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.

Greens Farms Elementary School was in the forefront of food scrap recylcing.

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.

Give The Gift Of Food Scrap Recycling

Searching for a holiday gift for the family that has everything — including plenty of food?

How about Sustainable Westport’s food scrap starter kit?!

For just $25, you can give friends or neighbors a countertop container, roll of compostable bags, and a transportation container.

Hey: You can buy it for yourself too.

The food scrap recycling starter kit.

Earthplace is selling the kits Mondays through Fridays. Call 203-557-4400 for holiday hours.

During this busy season, Sustainable Westport volunteers even deliver the kits to local homes. Email ZeroWaste@SustainableWestport.org, or call 203-293-6320.

Of course, you don’t need the starter kit to use the transfer station drop-off site. Just bring your food scraps in a lidded container, and drop them in the bright green toter.

The food scraps recycling program is a smash. Since it began in July, Westporters have brought over 2 tons a month to the transfer station. November set a record with more than 4 tons, thanks to pumpkin recycling.

The Paparo family was the first to use the transfer station drop-off food scrap recycling site, when it opened in July.

The scraps are brought to an industrial composting facility. Unlike most home sites, animal-based products like bones, meat, cheese and fish (including shellfish shells) are accepted at the transfer station drop-off.

Two Westport-licensed haulers (Action Waste Solutions and Curbside Compost) accept all food scraps. Several tons a month are being picked up from homes. The cost is about $32 a month; the first month is free if you mention Sustainable Westport.

Food scrap recycling is important economically, as well as environmentally. Food scraps make up 20% of residential waste by weight. They’re heavy, wet and don’t burn well at the waste-to-energy incinerator where most of Westport’s solid waste goes. The cost of solid waste removal comes from our taxes.

Sustainable Westport’s goal is to divert from disposal 25% or more of residential food waste. That’s 38 tons of food scraps per month.

Even with “tons” of parties, there’s such to be plenty of scraps this holiday season. Happy composting!

(NOTE: Sustainable Westport’s food scrap starter kit is free for income-eligible residents. To learn more about composting options, meal planning and preservation, or how to help distribute food to food-insecure residents, click here. Hat tip: Pippa Bell Ader.)

Unsung Heroes #161

Alert — and ecologically conscious — “06880” reader Pippa Bell Ader writes:

The Sustainable Westport Zero Food Waste Challenge — with a goal of decreasing residential food waste by 25% or more — is off to a good start.

Each week the transfer station collects half a ton of food waste. It’s brought to an industrial composting facility, and made into compost.

Every Saturday since the initiative began in July, a group of committed volunteers has handed out food scrap recycling flyers and answered questions at the transfer station.

They were there at 7 a.m. in the heat of the summer. They did not leave until well after noon, after the gates closed. They did it all with smiles (behind their masks).

Greens Farms Elementary School 5th grade teacher Stacey Fowle hands out a flyer.

Now, in the fall, the volunteers keep giving up part of their weekend, because they know they make a difference. And they know it, because residents thank them for the work they do to make Westport a sustainable community.

Since many transfer station regulars have received the flyer, Zero Food Waste Challenge volunteer hours have been decreased. They now start at 8 a.m.

The lines — which sometimes stretched to the Post Road this summer — are rare, now that all transfer station parking spots are open.

Stacey Williams teams up with a transfer station employee.

So the Zero Food Waste educational focus will move to other locations and events, as opportunities become available. The team was scheduled to attend over 30 events and meetings this summer. COVID canceled them all.

Congratulations to all Zero Food Waste Challenge volunteers: Pippa Bell Ader, Emma Alcyone, Aileen Brill, John Ferencz, Matt Ferencz, Stacey Fowle, Laurie Goldberg, Matthew Longhitano, Julie McDonald, Dylan Michaels, Ashley Moran, Leslie Paparo, Henry Potter, Jessie Schwartz, Dawn Sullivan, Stacey Williams and Trevor Williams. You are our very helpful (and green) Unsung Heroes of the Week!

(For more information about the Zero Food Waste Challenge, click here. For a starter kit ($25; free if income-eligible) go to Earthplace (10 Woodside Lane) weekdays between noon and 4 p.m. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Matthew Ferencz assembles starter kits at Earthplace.