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Students present ideas for Pocatello's composting program

By By Chris Cole
Published On: May 24 2013 11:30:57 PM CDT

Four schools in the Pocatello area had students conduct research about how much food goes to waste in their schools.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

A presentation at the city of Pocatello Friday inspired me to literally go digging for some answers about composting.

I found out grass clippings, leaves and weeds from the garden make great compost, but adding in food waste was the focus of the presentation Friday.

"It's about what we as a community can do in terms of reducing the amount of food waste," said Hannah Sanger, science and environment division director for the city of Pocatello.

Four schools in the Pocatello area had students conduct research about how much food goes to waste in their schools.

"They did all the work,” Sanger said. “We said, 'Here's some scales, here's a bucket, here's some trash bags. Can you figure this out for us?'"

The students found a lot of different amounts, all large. But they took it a step further and suggested a way to put that to good use: Pocatello's composting program.

"Food waste is not a current part of our yard waste pick up, but maybe in the future it can be," said Sanger

The Bannock County Landfill already creates compost, and has the capability to create compost with food waste.  The site is located along the way to the main garbage site.

It all starts after you've taken weeds out of your garden or just mowed your lawn. Normally you'd put the clippings in your green bin with a green lid. Then it's brought to the garbage area of the landfill.

But with the green bins with brown lids, they bring it here, where the compost can be bought for $35 a ton.

"Which is also awesome because we can get locally produced compost," Sanger added.

This shows that a community that recycles can benefit directly from that effort.

"Having students go out and collect data doing authentic research is pretty awesome," Sanger said.

But, why?  Compost is great for gardens by providing minerals and nutrients for plants to grow, and it also is a kind of mulch which keeps the soil cool -- something pretty important during our hot August weather.

The compost program currently has 400 of the 500 spots filled.

If you're interested in participating, click here to find out information about the cost and the program requirements. 

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