There is no waste in nature

Hierarchy of food recovery. Courtesy/Zero Waste Team

News from the Zero Waste team:

There is no waste in nature... a message from the Los Alamos County Zero Waste Team.

Zero waste tip:

Back to Nature aka Kitchen to Compost

SEND US TO COMPOST – Uneaten fruits and vegetables, eggshells, grass clippings, leaves, shredded paper products and wood chips.
KEEP US OUT OF COMPOST – Meat, fish, bones, fat, oil, milk, cheese, dairy products, bread, rice, pasta, baked goods and animal waste.

There is no waste in nature. Natural ecosystems work effectively in cycles. What is not eaten or excreted is broken down and will enrich the soil. Nature does its own composting. Nature has its own cleaning crew. Vultures cruise the sky looking with eyes and smell for a meal below.

Downstairs are other crew members that are rarely seen. The Soil Food Web creates living soil. There are specialists in this field of decomposition. Arthropods of different sizes are grinders and grazers. Nematodes are predators which, together with bacteria, fungi and protozoa, contribute to the eventual decomposition of organic matter. Worms have a double responsibility. They aerate the soil and their droppings enrich the soil.

Plants are our allies in the face of our challenges related to climate change. Alfalfa, Medicago sativa, is an Asian native that has been around the world. Arab nations consider it the “father of all foods”. We are lucky that he migrated to our shores. Its long roots often reach 25 feet deep into the earth. They act like a siphon, providing a channel in the earth for water, so it can feed, feed and add to aquifers and not become “runoff”. Its nutritional content makes it both a tonic and a nutritious herb. Tonic herbs improve the assimilation of nutrients. Nutritious herbs increase bioavailability in forms that are easy for the body to absorb. When plowed before it has a chance to seed, its spread can be controlled and its foliage becomes green manure. When combined with other plants, it makes a natural fertilizer.

Alfalfa plant. Photo by Jessie Emersen

This natural fertilizer recipe can be used for both indoor and outdoor plants:

  • Fill a gallon jug with 1 oz. each of alfalfa, nettles, comfrey root, kelp;
  • Next, fill the jug with a gallon of water;
  • Leave to infuse for 24 to 48 hours;
  • Finally, add the natural fertilizer to your compost.
  • There is no waste.

Biomimicry is a practice that learns and mimics strategies found in nature to solve challenges related to human design and climate. It produces durability and solidarity with all life. Check out this website, Asknature.org. So what is the connection between biomimicry, Zero Waste and food waste? The old way is to use different fungicides to control disease and food loss. However, fungicides, herbicides and pesticides have been proven to harm both the environment and human health. Fungi are smart like bacteria and viruses. They develop resistance to synthetic fungicides. To combat this, scientists have sought the answer in nature. There are now 10 major companies that produce natural fungicides. Plant chemicals are captured and placed in a biological container. They remain intact on the plant until that plant or a nearby plant senses danger and its surface becomes acidic. The capsule reacts to the change in pH and breaks open and releases compounds that kill fungi. No poison residue. No waste.

Man-made climate change is driven by waste. The waste products from burning fossil fuels are the gases that trap heat and cause the Earth to warm up. Methane from organic waste in landfills combines with natural gas waste, methane, to create a chemical 20 times more potent than CO2.

Food is the biggest producer of organic waste in US landfills. In 2021, the EPA reported that 70 billion pounds of food waste went to landfills. The EPA has developed a food recovery hierarchy. Each level of the inverted pyramid focuses on different food waste management strategies. If adopted, the food waste management program and composting initiative that was presented to the county council will help our country achieve its national goal of reducing its food waste by 50% by 2030. , we must invest in lifesaving infrastructure, recycle and prevent organic waste from entering landfills. When we start county composting, something many people want to see happen, we will be well on our way to achieving that goal, achieving zero waste and feeding the hungry.

For more information, see the Los Alamos County Environmental Services webpage at www.losalamosnm.us/gogreen. For those with questions or concerns, contact Environmental Services at 505.662.8163 or solidwaste@lacnm.us

* Zero Waste Team: The Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) and Environmental Services Division (ESD) formed the Zero Waste Team to educate the community on:

  • reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and
  • save energy and water.

Comprised of community volunteers and Los Alamos County employees, the team achieves ESB and ESD load through print and digital messages shared through traditional media sites, social media and brochures. Additionally, Zero Waste team members work with individuals and organizations, such as restaurateurs, businesses, schools, and residents, to incorporate these reduction and conservation best practices into daily routines. To join or contact the Zero Waste team, contact ZeroWaste@lacnm.us.


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