Something from New York ..., so this was a border-line thing … it’s Green, but not Chicago, and only kinda-sorta “tech”, but it was a cool enough story that I figured I’d pass it along. I had a newsletter from Good in my inbox, with a feature on a program for handling food waste that they’re trying in New York. If you’ve not been keeping score, New York has even a worse problem with landfills than the Chicago area, and they’ve already put in place a program where food waste can’t be put out with the usual trash and has to go to some (as yet not defined, I believe) composting channel. feature, Hello Compost: Trading Food Waste for Local, Healthy Food, takes a look at one group’s answer to this … setting up an “exchange” where consumers collect their food waste in cleanable/reusable canvas bags (see pic) and are given “credits” for future produce purchases for the waste collected. The organization, named Hello Compost {not as cute as the “Kitty” version, I suspect} notes:

Put simply, food waste is too valuable to go to waste. We see it as an opportunity to revolutionize our relationship with food by introducing a service that makes waste collection more than a curbside burden. It’s a way to create opportunities to better understand where food comes from, where food goes, and to give families the chance to make a positive impact for themselves and their community.

It appears that their target is “working class communities”, but it could potentially be scaled up to a full-city plan. This is also apparently operating independently of the city, interfacing with Project EATS, a program that’s already working in these areas developing urban farms and farmers markets. This group will be composting the food waste, using the resulting compost in their projects, and providing the produce for the exchange.

Obviously, there’s is nothing that would prevent a similar outreach happening in Chicago, except that we’ve not gotten to the point of banning food waste in the headed-for-the-landfills general trash stream … although that point is not far over the horizon here.

It will be interesting to see how the Hello Compost program plays out in New York, with an eye to implementing something similar … it certainly directly addresses one of the main difficulties in the wide-spread adopting of composting practices – how to get the food waste to the composting facilities before it starts to become unpleasant to have around (an especially time-constrained issue in mid- to high-rise urban settings) … but the economics of that are challenging, and perhaps this approach would only work on a community-by-community basis.

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