By Justin Maltry,
Environmental Programs Coordinator
Climate change has been such an ever present doom-and-gloom topic in recent years that good climate news can take you by surprise. While some scientists are saying the Paris climate deal reached in December didn’t go far enough, it is encouraging to see world leaders begin to take responsibility for addressing this critical issue. Here’s some more good news: you can help sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in your own backyard and with your food waste.
Much of the carbon in the atmosphere originated in the soil. That’s where it lived before the advent of agriculture and fossil fuels. So we’re actually returning carbon to where it came from when we employ sustainable and ecological – or agroecological – farming methods.
Agroecological methods include cover cropping, adding compost and avoiding harsh pesticides and fertilizers that damage soil life and structure. These techniques build healthy soil, not only sequestering carbon, but also increasing soil’s ability to hold water, an essential quality if water shortages continue.
To this end, supporting organic farmers is a powerful way to work against climate change. Don’t forget that many farmers who aren’t certified organic still practice building healthy soil, so talk with your farmers at the markets to learn about their practices.
At home, you can reduce your carbon footprint through responsible management of food waste and compost. When it comes to food waste, the best practice is to not waste food in the first place. Growing and transporting food can release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are produced using an extremely energy intensive process, likely using fossil fuels. Tilling and plowing fields releases carbon that had been stored in the soil. And, of course, transporting food from the farm to you, sometimes thousands of miles, burns massive amounts of fossil fuels.
Composting food scraps and yard waste at home also helps prevent climate change. Creating nutrient-rich compost to add to your garden – whether vegetables or ornamentals – pulls carbon out of the atmosphere and stores it away back into the soil. Backyard composting also reduces fossil fuels used to transport waste, as well as ensure food scraps don’t end up in landfills where decomposition releases methane, a major greenhouse gas.
|Live in Seattle? Passionate about reducing waste and ready to be more active in your community? Gain expertise in food waste prevention, composting and recycling, resource conservation and soil building – then teach others! Become a master composter!
|Build healthy soil and protect your watershed! Receive hands-on soil and water stewardship training in Kirkland and Renton and empower neighbors to support local food systems and practice environmental stewardship.|
|Take our Composting 101 class on Sat., March 18 to learn more about this essential process!|