Dr. Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful
This past week was International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW), the compost industry’s largest and most comprehensive education initiative. It is celebrated annually nationwide and in other countries during the first whole week of May.
The goal of ICAW is to work together to raise public awareness on why we all should be composting our organics, recycling, and using compost. Throughout the week of ICAW, community, school, government, and business events are held to encourage and celebrate composting of all types, from backyard to largescale. The theme for ICAW 2023 is For Healthier Soil, Healthier Food…Compost!
Keep Liberty Beautiful had a booth at Earth Day that explained composting, and during the week of ICAW, we participated in a social media campaign. Next year I plan to expand this part of the KLB program to workshops and handing out composting kits.
Throughout the week, I learned a lot about food waste and how composting can help with that. The 2023 International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) was chosen based on a severe worldwide issue that every nation, unfortunately, experiences: hunger.
The chosen 2023 theme best reflects the goal of focusing on how compost can have a role in helping feed the world by making our soil healthier, which produces healthier food.
How does compost help? By recycling organics into compost and using it on our farmlands, we create healthy soils that produce healthier food and higher yields. It also reduces the need for fertilizer and pesticides, improves water quality, conserves water, and stores carbon in the soil. Compost not only helps the environment but also helps to decrease food shortages experienced around the world. For Healthier Soil, Healthier Food…Compost!
Keep Liberty Beautiful mission is to help educate and make our community aware of what we can do to make Liberty County clean, green, and beautiful. Here are some facts about food waste that you need to know:
• Roughly one-third of the food produced that is intended for human consumption every year — around 1.3 billion tons and valued at $1 trillion — is wasted or lost. This is enough to feed 3 billion people.
• The water used to produce the wasted food could be used by 9 billion people at around 200 liters per person daily.
• Food loss and waste account for about 4.4 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
• Breaking it down by food group, losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40–50% for root crops and fruit and vegetables, 20% for oilseed and meat and dairy, and 35% for fish.
• If 25% of the food currently being lost or wasted globally were saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million people worldwide.
• By mid-century, the world population will hit 9 billion people. Food production must be increased by 70% to meet this demand by then.
• Food losses translate into lost income for farmers and higher prices for consumers, giving us an economic incentive to reduce food waste.
• Large quantities of food are wasted at the retail level because of quality standards that overemphasize appearance — in fact, half of all produce is thrown away in the U.S. because it is deemed too “ugly” to eat; this amounts to 60 million tons of fruits and vegetables.
• Twenty-five percent of the world’s freshwater supply is used to grow food that is never eaten.
• According to a survey conducted by Respect Food, 63% of people don’t know the difference between “use by” and “best before” dates. Foods with “use by” dates are perishable and must be eaten before the given date. Foods with “best before” dates can be eaten after the given date but won’t be at their best quality.
These facts tell us that we need to reduce the amount of food waste we produce or, at the very least, learn how to reuse leftover food to feed humans and animals or make energy and compost to close nutrient cycles. We hope this information about composting and food waste has motivated you to start composting at home or work!
For more information on preventing food waste, check out www. savethefood.com and www.stopfoodwasteday. com. You can also contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at (912) 880-4888 or klcb@libertycountyga. com.
Will you take the pledge to start composting today?