Kirkland Composts!

On October 11th, I went for a ride-along on the food recycling route with Waste Management. I got up REALLY early (3:45am), squeezed into the trucks tiny side seat (I am 6’1”) and witnessed how the route is done. Why? I wanted to find how well our businesses and multifamily residence were using our food recycling program and find out opportunities to make improvements. (I checked out commercial properties later.)

Stephanie and truck driver on the yard waste pickup ridealongYard Waste cart being dumped... There's a lot of liquid

I looked inside the food scrap carts, helped put in new compostable bag liners, looked at how the carts were being stored and occasionally took a peak in the garbage carts too.

Here is what I realized on the compost ride-along:

1) We need more participation!

Did you know almost half of our solid waste is made up of food waste!? There was a lot of food waste in trash carts and a lot of empty food recycling carts. Get food out of your solid waste and save on your solid waste bill.   Do people know they have food recycling service? Do they need a break down of cost savings? Are their bins difficult to access?

Yard Waste contaminated with starbucks cups, chip bags and other things.Yard Waste pile with lots of paper plates

2) Contamination!

EEK! I saw a lot of utensils, plastic food wrappers like candy bars and chips, and recyclable items like plastic bottles, aluminum cans and Starbucks cups. I even saw Styrofoam! Do people need more signage, containers, stickers and/or presentations?

I CAN HELP! What do you think will get more participation and less contamination? Email me at

While visiting some of these restaurants, apartment and condo complexes – it made me think about how much food turns to waste at home and how much I dislike wasting food!

Here is how I save money and inevitably reduce the amount of food that I recycle:

  • Meal Planning. Both my husband and I work four 10-hour days so when we get home, prepping dinner is difficult. Our meal planning for the week happens on Sunday.  This dramatically helps meal portions and time.
  • I am a lover of leftovers. If I eat leftovers all week, I treat myself to a dessert
  • After grocery shopping, I store food in smaller containers so they are easy to grab and go.
  • We make a lot of “clean-out the fridge” meals: scrambles, quiches, stir-fry’s…they are a great ways to eat those items that are on verge of being on the way out.
  • We have 6 chickens that eat just about everything, so if I don’t finish my plate, I know some ladies that will.

I’m excited to work with the participants in Kirkland’s food recycling program and I am anxious to see improvements with contamination.  Remember to first reduce the amount of food waste and THEN put it in the right cart.