Eurasian milfoil, gross yet useful

Read the full story in The Journal.

It’s nice when something gross turns out to be useful (like how sheep sweat, lanolin, makes chewing gum softer.) So I’m happy to report, in answer to a reader’s question some time ago, that, yes, Eurasian milfoil harvested from area lakes can be used in helpful ways, including as a soil amendment, fertilizer and even mulch.

First, though, if you’re not sure what Eurasian milfoil is, it’s that stringy, slimy plant that those big, blue boat harvesters remove from the lakes every summer. First detected in Minnesota in Lake Minnetonka in 1987, it is an invasive aquatic species that has spread to waterways across the state. The plant produces thick mats on the surface of the water and tangled stems and masses below, making it difficult, if not impossible, to swim and boat enjoyably. It can also disturb aquatic ecosystems by displacing native aquatic plants.

Acres of milfoil are removed from Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes annually by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s mechanical harvesters. The machines usually cut off the top 3 to 4 feel of the plant, which can grow up to 15-feet long (super spooky to swim through). If you walk the paths around the lakes, you’ve probably seen (and smelled) piles of it onshore or at the boat launch.

My Misadventures in Urban Composting

Read the full story in Citylab.

Composting—like jam-making—is one of those activities I tend just to read about. Nice idea, but too much hassle to actually carry out. Until I somehow became one of those people who processes kitchen waste on her balcony, producing nutrient-rich soil and saving the environment one banana peel at a time.

Composting gains steam in suburban schools, homes

Read the full story in the Daily Herald.

Across the [Chicago] suburbs, food scrap composting is taking hold at institutions and households that want to go beyond recycling. Composting diverts more material from landfills and lengthens their life spans. It also helps reduce greenhouse gases and cuts waste hauling costs. Further, the process recovers more nutrients than sending scraps down the garbage disposal, experts say.

The Value in Our Garbage

Read the full story in FutureStructure.

Most of the nation’s garbage still ends up in landfills, and as much as half of what Americans toss into their trash bins is food waste and other organic material. But increasingly there’s recognition of the value in all of that smelly stuff.

Organic waste produces enough biogas that the collection of landfill gas to produce electricity or fuel has become a big business in the United States. And thanks to technological advances, another major use of organic waste, the production of high-quality compost, is increasingly being seen as a key ingredient in long-term community sustainability.

TODAY: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency holding live Twitter chat about composting at 11 am

Did you know that between 28 and 38 percent of all waste is compostable? And that composting isn’t limited to just fruit and veggie scraps? Tea bags, tissues and even lint can be added to the compost bin. Every Minnesotan can choose to compost at home by establishing a backyard compost bin or worm compost bin.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is hosting a live Twitter chat about composting on Wednesday, May 7 at 11 a.m., in celebration of International Compost Awareness Week (May 5-11). Get answers to your composting questions by following @MnPCA or #MNCompost and joining the conversation. Compost experts will share information that will help you take action to reduce Minnesota’s waste stream, save space in landfills, save money on trash disposal and improve the quality of the soil in your yard.

MPCA organics and recycling specialists Emily Barker and Tim Farnan will participate in the chat, along with the Recycling Association of Minnesota’s executive director Maggie Mattacola.

To participate, sign into your own Twitter account at 11 a.m. CDT on May 7 and submit a question on the topic using the hashtag #MNcompost.

If you aren’t a Twitter user, you can still follow the chat online at at the starting time. Post your questions to the MPCA’s Facebook page or email them to The MPCA will respond to as many tweets and questions on the topic as possible during the chat.

Read more about composting on the MPCA’s Living Green website.

Composting 101

Read the full post from the National Park Service Commercial Services.

As more businesses seek opportunities to lower their carbon footprints, it is often the food and beverage departments that lead the charge. At parks around the country, concessioners are switching to biodegradable and compostable service-ware and utensils, composting their food waste, and promoting more recycling. Food and beverage operations are generally the number one contributor to waste in parks, which means there is ample opportunity for concessioners to make strides in this area.

Organic materials are among the highest volume of waste collected at park events.i Compost is organic material that aids in growing plants. Food waste and yard trimmings are common inputs for creating compost — both of which are found frequently in parks and at concession locations. There are many benefits to composting. Concessioners can compost food scraps or vegetation waste to reduce their output to landfills. Other benefits of composting include:

  • Reduction or elimination of the need for chemical fertilizers;
  • Cost-effective means of remediating soil;
  • Avoidance of methane formation in landfills;
  • Marketable commodity. Concessioners can supply their compost to those who need it (gardens, local farmers, etc.).

Composting for Businesses and Organizations

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

While the recycling of paper, plastic and glass is common across the country, composting remains the final frontier of recycling, especially in dense East Coast cities. But recent citywide composting efforts launched in Boston and New York are showing that it can be done, even in the most challenging urban environments with tight space constraints. Since 30% of waste generated in the US is made up of organic and food waste, many organizations are starting to realize that composting might be one of the few ways left to improve corporate sustainability goals or to achieve zero-waste ambitions.

But how do you know if you are ready to conquer the final frontier of recycling?  Here is a quick guide to help you decide: