Maine Composts Week includes sharing nourishment with people who are food insecure

A collaboration of groups and individuals will kick off the first Maine Composts Week on Sunday, May 7.

The statewide event will promote reducing the amount of unused food, sharing unserved food with people who are food insecure and diverting unused food to composting and anaerobic digestion facilities to minimize the amount of food being disposed.

Scheduled activities include documentary screenings, composting open houses and children’s book readings at libraries. There also will be contests and resources geared toward schools, business, communities and households. Participants can take part in the hand-drawn or digital art challenge or photograph their compost pile or their school’s share table.

“If you can’t find an event near you, organize one,” says organizer Travis Blackmer, a lecturer in UMaine’s School of Economics. “The only wrong way to do Maine Composts Week is to not do it at all.”

Details about how to participate are on the event’s Facebook page.

The purpose of Maine Composts Week is to engage Mainers with the topics of composting, anaerobic digestion, food insecurity and solid waste/materials management in an effort to:

  • Promote business and service providers who excel in organics management
  • Reduce wasted materials
  • Highlight best practices in organics management
  • Promote composting being integrated in K–12 education, businesses and household behavior
  • Provide resources that enable schools, business, households, communities and institutions to compost effectively
  • Promote food diversion as a first option to manage organic materials before composting

“Maine is doing a lot to fight hunger,” says Blackmer, a research associate at the UMaine Senator George J. Mitchell Center and leader of the center’s Materials Management (Solid Waste) in Maine project.

“From the Food Councils and Gleaning Networks across the state, to local food pantries and hunger events, we can continue to cut down on the 16 percent of Maine that is food insecure and 24 percent of children that do not know where their next meal is coming from.”

At the heart of the issue is landfill capacity, which is limited and valuable. Presently, Maine’s solid waste stream is 40 percent organic in nature. These materials, typically wet and dense, are a valuable resource that, when managed properly, add value to society.

Maine’s recycling goal of 50 percent remains unmet and progress has plateaued in the past decade. Maine composts 5 percent of its potentially compostable/digestible material.

Highlighting composting and other organics management processes, such as anaerobic digestion, food diversion and food waste reduction, are key ways to make inroads into this larger societal issue.

For more details, visit the Mitchell Center website or the event’s Facebook page.

“Find answers to all your composting and related questions on our Maine Composts Week webpage,” Blackmer says. “Our favorite tip: Relax. Even if you do everything wrong, you will eventually make great compost.”

Campus announcement; Outreach; Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture; Signature and Emerging Areas; Sustainability Solutions and Technologies; Statewide