Garbage Solution - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2078938

Garbage Solution

Garbage disposal is a growing problem on Long Island. The residents of the Town of Southampton alone produce on average 400,000 pounds of municipal solid waste every day, all of which must be trucked long distance for disposal or burned in one of four remaining incinerators on Long Island.

Disposal of our garbage will become even more expensive and problematic next year, when the Brookhaven landfill closes, because that’s where much of the ash residue from burning Southampton’s municipal solid waste has been deposited.

Though planning and development is underway to build major new infrastructure, such as rail and barge terminals and industrial-scale digesters, these are stopgap measures that will add to the expense of the current system and don’t do much to address or reduce the problem in a fundamental way.

There is something each of us can do right now to begin making a real difference: community composting, which produces rich soil for multiple uses.

The solution is sitting right in front of us: the food scraps left on our plates. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the largest single source of municipal solid waste in the United States consists of food scraps, which are estimated to account for more than 20 percent of the total solid waste stream.

Instead of treating kitchen scraps as garbage that must be bagged, hauled and trucked long distance for incineration, we must view these scraps as a valuable resource that can help reduce Southampton’s solid waste stream via composting.

Realistically, backyard composting won’t make a dent in the Town of Southampton’s municipal waste problem. Avid gardeners aside, most of us don’t have the time, patience or space in our backyards to compost for ourselves. What’s needed is a communitywide effort.

Since March 2020, a community group called the Ecological Cultural Initiative has been running a community composting program based at St Joseph’s Villa in Hampton Bays. Their program is staffed by unpaid volunteers and currently serves about 30 households, from Quogue to Southampton.

Since its inception, it has diverted approximately eight tons of food waste from the municipal waste stream. The soil produced is distributed to participants and also used in the food pantry garden to grow organic vegetables distributed free to needy families.

ECI is now hoping to expand their operation and has submitted a proposal to the Town of Southampton to set up a pilot program that would be hosted at one of the town’s existing transfer stations.

This type of program is a win-win endeavor that reduces our carbon footprint as a community while delivering an end product — soil — that’s rich in organic matter.

Contact Southampton Town Council members to move forward with the pilot program.

Marissa Bridge

Susanne Jansson

Conservation Committee

Westhampton Garden Club