When you visit the tourist mecca that is Bend, Oregon (proudly, my hometown), there are many great restaurants at which to enjoy a meal. Chefs come from all over the U.S. to live and work in this vacation destination which has great skiing during the winter, and lots of sunshine for bikers, hikers and swimmers in summertime.
Perhaps not surprisingly, people are especially environmentally sensitive here. We do not take the crystal blue skies, sparkling rivers and thick forests for granted. In order to keep Oregon green, several restaurants in the Old Mill District have joined a commercial composting program to reduce waste.
Cafe Yumm, Pastini Pastaria and Strictly Organic Coffee Co. are the first Bend restaurants at the Old Mill District to gather up their biodegradable scraps and recycle them, instead of sending them off to the the landfill. As noted in a recent Bend Bulletin article, Jim Fields of Fields Farms will make two pick-ups per week to haul away the compost material which he will transform until organic fertilizer.
Here’s how commercial composting works:
If the program, initiated with the Environmental Center, is a success, the Old Mill will recommend that all restaurants in the development participate. Who knows… maybe other Bend restaurants around town will also join in! In fact, beyond the three restaurants at the Old Mill, the Deschutes Brewery, Bend Golf & Country Club, and the main location for Strictly Organic Coffee off of Arizona Avenue already participate in a commercial composting program with Fields Farm.
Not only is composting an excellent way to help build natural, rich soils for growing fruits, vegetables and other plants, but it significantly reduces waste for businesses that participate. Strictly Organic Coffee notes that it recycles and composts half its overall waste! The other participating Old Mill restaurants expect a reduction of at least 30%, as well.
And, its good for the environment. When food ends up in landfills, it releases methane as it decomposes, which is even more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas! A recent National Geographic publication noted:
“The University of Arizona estimates that if every American household reduced the amount of food it throws away by half, we’d cut our entire environmental impact as a country by 25 percent.”
The Bend restaurants will be provided 55-gallon containers into which biodegradable waste (fruits, vegetables, meat trimmings, starches and some cardboard) can be placed. The containers will be conveniently situated next to the outdoor garbage area. The Old Mill District itself will pay for the composting pick-up, so it truly is a no-cost, environmentally sound decision for the businesses to make.
I’ll bet the commercial composting program at Bend restaurants will spread across town, across the state, and hopefully the nation! More landlords should take the lead of the Old Mill District and help tenants cut down on waste, by providing compost bins and even paying the cost of pick-up.
Beyond restaurants, why not aparatment buildings, school cafeterias, even office complexes? You could spearhead the start of a commercial composting program where you live and/or work!
That’s what we call Peachy Green!