LeighAnna Z. Minnesota


Composting is underrated and underused. We should have a free composting service in America so more people will compost.

Dear Mrs. President,

In recent years, recycling has become a common household practice, greatly lessening waste in America. The establishment of free recycling collection services in many places increased awareness of the issue of waste and what can be done to counteract it. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go. Composting is an underrated and underused method of waste reduction. A free composting service should be established in the United States because it would encourage more people to compost which would increase energy savings, diminish our country's waste, and have great environmental benefits.

In 2012, the United States generated about 251 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW). Of the total waste generated, only about 87 million tons (34.5 percent) was saved from landfills or incineration. This recovered portion saved over 1.1 quadrillion British thermal units (BTU) of energy (epa.gov). One million BTU of gasoline costs $17.81 (forbes.com). Therefore, by saving 1.1 quadrillion BTU we also save more than 17.81 billion dollars. Even with a cheaper energy source, such as coal, which only costs $0.56 per million BTU, more than 56 million dollars would be saved. One way to increase those savings and cut down on the amount of waste that goes to landfills would be to start composting more. About 14.5 percent of the total MSW generated was food waste which could be composted, but only 4.8 percent of that food waste was recovered. If more food waste was recovered, large amounts of energy and money would be saved.

Composting not only benefits the economy, but the environment as well. When food waste decomposes in a landfill, methane gas is produced—a major contributor to global warming. Furthermore, though incineration is often considered an environmentally sound alternative to landfills, it too produces carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, both harmful greenhouse gases (makedirtnotwaste.org). When food waste is composted, it becomes a powerful organic fertilizer. Compost is a safe alternative to unnatural fertilizers because it removes the danger of agricultural runoff poisoning lakes and rivers.

One of the main reasons people don’t compost is because they don’t understand how or why, or don’t want to put in the effort. In fact, 72 percent of people in a survey conducted by the National Waste & Recycling Association said they don't compost. However, 68 percent of that group said they'd be open to it if there was a community composting program available, but 62 percent said they would not be willing to pay for such a service (associationsnow.com). A free composting service would reduce effort and spread awareness about the importance of composting. One composting service in North Carolina has saved 1.25 million pounds of food scraps from landfills since its establishment in 2012 (compostnow.org). If such services were free and accessible throughout the country, just imagine the difference that could be made.

As shown through the facts presented, composting is beneficial to both the economy and the environment. Despite the clear advantages, Americans still have difficulty making composting a part of their lifestyle. It is my belief that a free composting service would solve this problem by making composting convenient and accessible.

Thank you for your time,

LeighAnna Zielske

10th Grade

St. Paul Central High School, MN