Climate Solutions: Food waste

— Courtesy IGI

Food waste is 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions … more than the carbon footprint of the airline industry.

According to Project Drawdown, one-third of the food produced in farms and factories never makes it to our plates. This is wasteful on so many levels: seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, and labor, all wasted. In wealthier nations, 35 percent of the food waste occurs in our homes: We don’t eat what we buy, it rots, and we throw it out.

“Shop your fridge” is what Sophie Abrams Mazza says, urging people to reduce their waste by first looking at what they already have, and seeing what can be made with it.

We ship 19,000 tons of trash off-Island each year. More than a third of that is food waste.  Some of that waste is burned at SEMASS, but at least half goes to a landfill near New Bedford.  Landfilled food waste creates methane, a greenhouse gas considerably more detrimental than carbon dioxide.


Compost added to our soils helps to sequester carbon, and adds nutrients. We currently import tons of it, but we could be making our compost here: reducing our carbon footprint by eliminating fuel usage to ship this waste off-Island, and by stopping the practice of landfilling it.  IGI is spearheading an effort to have an on-Island in-vessel drum system that can compost our 6,500 tons of food waste. Support for this effort will be requested at the 2022 town meetings.

Composting at home is also a good idea. The compost you produce can feed your soil, and makes for more nutrient-dense produce. If you don’t want to do this, take your compost to the local drop-off, and IGI will compost it at Thimble Farm.

An Edey Foundation grant supports this effort. For more information on this topic, visit