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Food scrap pick-up service aims to reduce food waste in Maine landfills

"You don't have to put solar panels on your house [or] buy a new electric car. It's something simple that everybody can do," Katie Saunders said.

HAMPDEN, Maine — 1 Earth Composting is a food scrap pick-up service currently being offered in Bangor, Brewer, and Hampden. For $25 a month, customers can have their food scraps picked up weekly. 

Matt and Katie Saunders of Hampden started the business in January. They provide five-gallon buckets to each of their customers to be filled with any food leftovers they may have. The Saunders then take those buckets to Chickadee Compost in Blue Hill where they begin the composting process. 

This business is an effort by the Saunders to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfills in the Bangor area. When our food leftovers end up in landfills, it generates methane gas, which contributes to climate change. 

"Rotting food in the landfill is a big contributor to that [climate change], actually, which a lot of people I think don't realize," Katie said.

The composting process starts by mixing mouse bedding with the scraps in a pile. That pile is then turned many times over the course of several months as the nutrients in the food break down. After about a year, the finished compost product is something that can be used in gardens or as mulch.

"As a part of the service, you'll get first dibs at the finished compost," Matt said.

Matt said it's about $100 per yard of compost, and it can be purchased through Chickadee Compost.

Katie Brydon, a Bangor resident, said she and her husband tried starting a compost in their own backyard, but soon realized it was a big undertaking. But she still wanted to find a way to reduce her family's impact on the environment.

"I have three small children, and they waste a lot of food. We heard about 1 Earth Composting online and we were really excited that someone could actually do all the hard work for us," Brydon said. 

Brydon said composting their food is also an important example to set for her kids. 

"They understand that its important, one, not to be wasteful, but two, even if we do have a meal that doesn't go over so well, they know that being responsible with the leftovers and what's not taken care of is helping other farmers and really helping the Earth," Brydon said. 

Brydon added that she loves how easy it is to fill the bucket and leave it along the curb in front of her home for pick-up.

"Like anyone, why do you throw your cans in the recycling bin, why do you put your trash in a trash can instead of the floor? It's the right thing to do," Brydon said. 

"It's nothing expensive. You don't have to put solar panels on your house or buy a new electric car. It's something simple that everybody can do," Katie Saunders said.

For more information on 1 Earth Composting and to learn more about how to sign up, click here

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