Gainesville Zero Waste News

Start Backyard Composting Today - It’s Easy & Fun!

lady placing compostable items in your compost bin outsideBackyard Composting is easy, fun, and a great way to enhance your garden. You can start a compost pile any time of the year, and you don’t need to have a green thumb to compost, as nature will do most of the work. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of creating your own nutrient-rich soil that will help your plants and garden vegetables flourish. Adding compost to your yard will improve soil structure, increase the soil’s water retention capacity, and hold nutrients in the soil for a longer time for plants to absorb.

Here are some Quick Tips to Getting Started:

  • > Choose a compost bin container that best accommodates your available space and budget. Often an inexpensive container made out of chicken-wire will meet your needs.
  • > Place your compost bin in a spot that will get both sun and shade. The sun can help heat the pile on colder days, and the shade will help keep your pile from drying out.
  • > Create a layer of small twigs at the bottom of your pile to help with aeration and drainage.
  • > Be sure to mix in equal parts of “greens” and “browns” in your pile. Too many greens (food scraps) and your pile may start to smell.

For more about backyard composting visit

Food Waste and Wasted Food – Two Sides of the Same Coin

Red apple graphic with Reduce Food Waste written inside of itDid you know the U.S. discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 80 billion pounds every year? Wasting food has serious environmental and economical repercussions, as well as far-reaching impacts on our society. Learning the difference between Food Waste and Wasted Food is a first step understanding this important issue.

Food Waste or “food scraps” primarily consists of organic material discarded during the preparation or cooking of food. For example, food trimmings such as the fat off meats and the nonedible parts of foods like watermelon rinds, banana peels, and peanut shells. Food Waste also includes leftover or partially consumed foods such as pizza crusts or apple cores. Items that are no longer safe for humans to eat, such as moldy bread or spoiled milk, are classified as food waste as well. Most food waste maintains the potential to be composted when separated from the garbage stream.

On the other hand, Wasted Food generally refers to food fit for human consumption but goes to waste before it can be eaten. Estimates are that 14% of all food produced globally never makes it to consumers. This loss can occur during the processing, transporting, preparing, and storing of food from field to market. However, by far the greatest amount of Wasted Food comes from our own kitchens in the form of food spoilage resulting from buying more food than needed. Other Wasted Food includes lower-grade produce such as bruised peaches or unusally shaped (“ugly”) vegetables that go uneaten. Also, packaged food past their sell dates and excess prepared foods are indentified as Wasted Food. Much of this Wasted Food could be diverted to help feed needy families or put to better uses rather than sent to landfills.

For information on how you can donate food local, visit Bread of the Mighty Food Bank.

Avoid Placing Plastic Pouches In Your Curbside Recycle Bins

serveral plastic pouchesProducts sold in resealable plastic pouches are flooding the grocery store shelves more than ever. While this type of flexible packaging is convenient for our on-the-go lifestyles, they are not particularly environmentally friendly as they are not recyclable in curbside recycling programs. Like other plastic bags, this material gets tangled up in the sorting equipment and causes significant problems for recycling centers. Additionally, plastic pouches are not highly marketable as they require specialized recycling processes.

Typical products sold in plastic pouches include:

  • > Laundry & Dishwasher soap pods
  • > Fruits & Nuts
  • > Cookies & Candies
  • > Chips & Snacks

Avoid placing plastic pouches in your curbside recycle bins. When deciding if a plastic item is accepted or not, don’t focus on the number or code on the packaging, as that information can often be misleading. Instead, just remember that only plastic bottles, jugs, jars, and tubs are accepted for recycling curbside.

For more information on what can be recycled, visit

Are Corks Recyclable?

Don’t toss away those wine bottle corks! Save any natural or synthetic corks to drop off later on at local cork recycling locations. Reused cork material can be used to make products such as shoe soles and yoga blocks, thus helping to prevent this material from going to waste.

Gainesville Area Cork Drop-off Locations:
top of cork recycle container

  • > Whole Foods – Archer Road
  • > Total Wine – Butler Plaza
  • > Repurpose Project – NE 23rd Ave.

Please note, corks are not recyclable in your home recycle bin, so be sure to remove cork tops from your bottles before setting the bottles out for recycling collection.

For a list of where you can recycle corks and other types of material, visit the Gainesville Recycling Resource Guide online at

Gainesville Zero Waste News

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