Every day in this country we throw away more than 200 million pounds of trash.

Fifteen percent of it comes from our kitchen and yard waste, and the majority of it ends up in our landfills. You may be under the impression that because you live in a tiny apartment with absolutely no outdoor space, there is no point to composting your food waste. But you would be wrong. New York City residents produce 12,000 tons of trash every day.

Think about that the next time you throw out your third iced coffee cup of the day or your unread Sunday New York Times newspaper.

NYC produces, trash truck

NYC produces 12,000 tons of trash. Every. Single. Day. (Source: BriYYZ via Flickr Creative Commons).

Even if you have no plants to speak of, environmentally speaking, composting your food waste is always the right thing to do.

First of all, composting causes food waste to shrink by about 80 percent, which reduces the amount of waste heading to the landfill.

Secondly, and most importantly, composting reduces the volume of greenhouse gas emissions coming from your trash.

Quick science lesson: Rotting food requires plenty of oxygen in order to decompose into carbon dioxide and water. If there is no available oxygen – say, in a tightly packed landfill – rotting food will produce methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Something to think about if you’re a fan of our ozone layer!

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Of course, compost also creates a nutrient rich soil additive, which is great for potted plants and personal gardens. If you don’t have any use for it, neighbors or friends with gardens will be only too happy to take it off your hands, and so will many of your local community gardens and schools. You can even deposit the compost on any neighborhood tree! And if you want to help the environment but don’t have the ability to compost yourself, GrowNYC has a few drop-off sites where you can deposit your food scraps.

New York City is making steps towards the ambitious goal of becoming a zero-waste-to-landfill zone; Mayor de Blasio has just recently proposed that mandates be placed on arenas, large hotel restaurants, and food wholesalers requiring them to compost all their organic waste and food scraps. The goal is to require all restaurants to compost, and widespread personal composting won’t be far behind – so why not get a head start?