“You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly.” (Psalms 65:9) “When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” (John 6:12)
Every year, Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church has a pumpkin sale in October. It is a long standing tradition, a seasonal neighborhood fixture that families return to year after year, and a huge fundraiser for the Honduras missions. There are inevitably pumpkins that arrive rotten, rot during the month of sales, or that are left over after Halloween.
In partnership with Emory University, all these are now composted, along with those that purchasers return for composting after the season. According to US Composting Council, “every metric dry ton of food that goes to a landfill may generate .25 metric tons of methane in the first 120 days. Thus composting this food waste reduces emissions by the equivalent of up to 6 metric tons of CO2“ and “organic discards that are high in nitrogen, such as food scraps… under wet and oxygen-limited conditions, can also produce N2O during decomposition, roughly 300 times worse than carbon dioxide” in terms of global warming. Further, “end use of the compost provides some [greenhouse gas] benefits, both directly through sequestration [in the soil] and indirectly through improved soil health, reduced soil loss, increased water infiltration and storage, and reduction of other inputs” like fertilizers, water, fungicides, and herbicides (US Composting Council).
Including the pumpkins collected back from purchasers, there was over a ton of wet organic material collected from the pumpkin sale. The same composting is planned for this year and the years going forward. The composting at Glenn Memorial is continuing to spread to food scraps at Wednesday Night Suppers and special events with food throughout the year. Reusable or compostable cups, dinnerware and to-go containers are used to reduce waste and almost everything is composted at these events, from picnics on the lawn to Commitment Sunday lunches. Bags used to collect the compostable materials are compostable, so less oil is used than would be with plastic bags.
Composting is spreading quickly to members’ homes. It is getting to the point where composting is as common as recycling at Glenn. As with recycling, there is an effort to complete the cycle. Once a year, a local organic meal is hosted for Wednesday Night Supper with food from the local organic farmer’s market. The local organic grass-fed beef served ran out due to its popularity. A local farmer from Truly Living Well Urban Farms came to solidify the connection on what people were eating from a social and environmental perspective. The personal connection really hits home. Lastly, Glenn Memorial is now working to source more foods from shorter distances away (ideally 250 miles or less), reduce the waste following meals and special events, and to host more children’s events.
This Cool Congregations story was submitted by Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia