Food Waste Reduction & Composting

According to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, getting food from “farm to our fork” eats up 10% of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50% of U.S. land, and swallows 80% of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40% of food in the U.S. today goes uneaten. Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year and that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste where it accounts for a large portion of U.S. methane gas emissions. So what can schools do about this?

Every school day each student generates about two pounds or more of compostable materials. Combining food waste reduction strategies and composting efforts can help schools significantly reduce waste. Composting takes things a step beyond “reduce, reuse, recycle”: Students can do more than sending items off for recycling; they can see the entire cycle of natural conversion from “yucky” food scraps to a material that is beneficial and usable. They learn through direct experience that they can make a difference and have a positive effect on the environment. In addition, measureable food waste reduction and composting are rich topics for investigation and discovery across the curriculum.

Tip: Also visit our National & State Green School Programs page to learn more about local and national Green School programs and resources to help you improve the health & sustainability of your school!

Hand holding compost above a compost pile

Before You Start

Design and Preparation


Using Your Project

Sharing Your Project

Resource Center