In an effort to reduce strain on our state’s bloated landfills and to recover valuable materials, Tennessee Environmental Council operates a program open to all Tennessee residents called “Come, Post Your Compost.”

The program is designed to encourage residential composting of food waste. As of today, 800 Tennessee households are participating and have collectively diverted 75 tons of food waste from landfills through composting.

“The average Tennessee household (in our program) is now composting 8.66 pounds of kitchen scraps each week,” says Julia Weber, organics management program manager.

“Multiply this by the 2.5 million households in Tennessee, and we will have discovered a vast untapped resource we could be using to restore our state’s topsoils,” says Weber.

Based on this average, 1.35 billion pounds of food waste could be diverted from our landfills each year while creating approximately 675 million pounds of soil amendment to restore our topsoils.

This data is the result of program participants tracking their weekly amount of food waste and other organic waste composted. The group is using these findings to illustrate the magnitude of our waste problem in Tennessee while painting a picture of hope for solving it.

“Composting is something anyone in Tennessee can do starting today simply by capturing their kitchen scraps and letting nature break them down instead of throwing them in the trash,” says Jeffrey Barrie, Interim CEO of Tennessee Environmental Council. “More and more Tennessee residents are seeing the value of this ‘black gold’ as a nutrient-rich resource for their gardens.”

Composting is a process of taking organic matter like food and yard waste and placing it in a pile or container outdoors and letting the material decompose naturally. The result is a rich soil amendment that can be added to vegetable or flower gardens to enhance the nutrients and structure of the soil.

Tennessee residents are invited to sign up and begin their compost adventures at home by visiting the website tectn.org/comepostyourcompost. Monthly cash prizes and seasonal competitions are offered as incentives for participants to actively engage in composting.

The residential composting effort is funded in part by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Organics Management program, with additional support from Kroger, Eileen Fisher, and individual donors.