The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a new rule Monday governing what residents put in your garbage bin.
The idea is to increase the amount of food scraps going to compost.
Council member Sally Bagshaw said promoting this practice could reduce up to a third of Seattle’s waste ending up in landfills.
“So if we just get ourselves into the mindset of, Ok, we’re going to recycle our bottles, our papers, our cans, just as we’ve been doing for the past 25 years, and now we’re going to compost the stuff in your kitchen, really easy to reduce the amount of stuff that’s going to a landfill,” she said.
Under the new rule, garbage haulers can ticket bins that contain 10 percent or more of food waste.
Single family households would be fined one dollar on their bi-monthly bill if they exceed that amount.
Owners of multifamily buildings will face a fine of fifty dollars after the third violation.
Bagshaw’s office says the city of Seattle sends 100-thousand tons of garbage to landfills every year.
The new law is aimed at helping Seattle reach its goal of having a recycling rate of 60 percent by 2015. The change is expected to generate an additional 38,000 tons of compost material every year.
San Francisco also has a mandatory composting ordinance.
Collectors will begin tagging garbage bins with warnings Jan. 1. Fines start until July 1.
Seattle Public Utilities asked the council to consider the ordinance because the agency is falling short of its recycling and composting goals. The council vote was 9-to-0. No public hearing was required.
Ten-year-old Sean Higdon is well-versed in plants and compost and can even name a few beneficial insects, thanks to Chickasaw Nation Environmental Camp.
Strolling among the raised beds of onions, peppers, beans and other crops on a sunny Friday morning at the Chickasaw Nation Community Gardens, Sean and 27 other students paused to pick ripe strawberries and examine a caterpillar.
“This caterpillar is not a bad one, because he is fuzzy,” Sean explained.
Sean, of Ada, credits time spent at the unique camp for introducing him to such concepts as mulch, water conservation, gardening and natural pest control.
Designed to enlighten 8-12 year olds about the world around them, Environmental Camp offers behind-the-scenes tours of facilities, including a municipal water treatment plant, waste water treatment plant, and community gardens, where the group learned about hydroponics, compost and how the facility uses ladybugs for pest control.
Lesson about compost and how it benefits the soil made an impact on the young lives.
“This right here feels like my own garden,” said the spunky fourth grader, as he surveyed the community gardens, located southeast of Ada.
The Community Gardens is Sean’s garden– as well as all Chickasaw citizens.
The Community Garden Program is a part of the Chickasaw Nation horticulture department, and is dedicated to improving the quality of life of all Chickasaws by providing the tools and training to ensure Chickasaw people have the opportunity to attain healthy and nutritious vegetables.
Workers strive daily to fulfill the mission statement of “renewing the connection between our people and the earth.”
Crops such as corn, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and watermelon from the Community Gardens are consumed in the near-by Chickasaw Medical Center and the Cultural Center Café in Sulphur.
Thousands of tomato, squash and pepper plants are given to Chickasaw elders each spring and the general public can purchase vegetables and vegetable plants at local Farmer’s Markets during the summer months.
Shrubs and flowers grown at the gardens are available to Chickasaw homeowners and are used in landscaping at Chickasaw facilities.
Community Gardens, as well as Environmental Camp, reflects the mission of this year’s June 5 World Environmental Day observance, with objectives of teaching self-sustaining, earth- friendly concepts to young people.
The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is: Think. Eat. Save.
This campaign discourages food waste and food loss, encourages people to reduce their “foodprint” and to become more aware of the environmental impact of food choices. By purposefully choosing organic foods grown with pesticides and locally grown foods can decrease the use of dangerous chemicals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
World Environment Day celebration began in 1972 and has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.
Every year 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.
Also, one in every seven people worldwide go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die from hunger every day.
About World Environmental Day
Through World Environment Day, the United Nations Environment Program is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.
World Environment Day is also a day to remind people from all walks of life of the need to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations.