Composting 101 - Sailors for the Sea

Composting 101

 May 26, 2016  | By: Oceana

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Composting is a simple concept that has been used for thousands of years. It is a great way to minimize trash heading to the landfill and can easily be accomplished at a regatta with a little bit of planning. Since composting is now required to achieve gold level Clean Regattas certification, we wanted to share some simple tips to get you started!

Why Compost?

The EPA estimates that 20-30% of what we throw away at home could be composted instead, and worldwide by 2100, solid-waste generation will exceed 11 million tons PER DAY – more than three times today’s rate. That’s a whole lot of space in our rapidly filling landfills, most of which are so tightly compacted that there’s very little oxygen or microorganisms – meaning some products will simply never break down! (Want to learn more about our overflowing landfills? Check out Rubbish!, a book about the history of trash and how things do – or do not – break down in landfills. They’ve unearthed 40-year old hot dogs and 25-year old heads of lettuce in almost pristine condition!)

Where does it go?

In order to determine what can be composted, you need to know where your compost will go. You’ve got a few options (some of which are completely free!):

  • A quick google search “compost in [town/city]” will reveal if your local public works will be able to accept composting
  • Check to see if your local farmers market will accept composting (generally just food waste)
  • Reach out to farms in your area
  • Find an industrial composter to take care of your larger events and compostable dinnerware
  • This is also a great opportunity to start on-site composting at your club! For more information on how to start a personal composting project, check out tips from Planet Natural and the EPA.

Once you know where your compost will be going, you’ll be able to find out the types of material they accept. Generally speaking, all food can be accepted at most venues. Additionally, napkins, paper towels and even newspapers are great for compost.

If your compost facility can accept compostable plastics (corn, tapioca, or starch-based), consider using plates, cups and flatware made from PLA plastic or cardboard/paper. These items are a great alternative to regular disposable wares, and if you must serve with single-use items, they really cut down on the amount of waste headed for the landfill from your event.

Don’t forget that organic materials collected during your event should be stored in a contained area – free from pests!

How to Compost!

Composting at a large-scale event can be just as easy as composting at home – you just need the proper set up and training for your Green Team and any event staff that handles food. Instead of the two-bin system traditionally implemented, recycling and landfill, you’ll now have three, with an additional bin for compost. It is best practice to have all bins different colors and we highly recommend having a volunteer at the station while food is being served. Green Team volunteers are there to assist and educate in the sorting process. There are also businesses that can be hired out for waste management at events – they’ll take care of everything from collecting and sorting food waste to transfer to a composting facility.

In addition to keeping organic waste out of landfills, publicizing your environmental efforts sends a message to your participants and community that being a responsible environmental steward is as important as being on the water. It will also help ensure sailors know how to sort their trash come dinnertime!

Click here to get your free composting sign that can be printed and used to label bins during your regatta. Feel free to add the events logo on the left hand side.

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