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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Melissa Schepers with the composting machine in Guatemala.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
Composting tips from Guatamalans to New Yorkers
By Melissa Schepers

The environment is a growing concern for many people today and increasing number of communities are trying to raise awareness about the “3 Rs” — reduce, reuse and recycle. The village of Novillero, Guatemala is no exception.

I recently returned from a mission awareness trip to Guatemala with a group from St. Raymond Parish in East Rockaway.

Guatemala is an underdeveloped country in Central America, where a large number of people get some or most of their food from farming in their own backyards. While staying in the village of Novillero, a small Mayan community of about 2,000 inhabitants, we were given a tour of the new recycling plant by the Adrian Cochoy, the new mayor of the municipality of Santa Lucia Utatlan.

The plant included a small shed with a sophisticated machine that took organic food waste, such as vegetable rinds and fruit peels, and turned them into material for compost, which is a mixture of various decaying organic substances that nature turns into a nutrient-rich material that can be used for fertilizer or bio-fuel.

Households in the village pay a small fee that helps run the program. In return, they receive a rich fertilizer to use in their planting and farming. I found it impressive that a village in an underdeveloped country is this advanced in the practice of recycling organic waste into compost.

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has recently recommended a new composting program for NYC residents that would require them to separate their food scraps for composting. Those food scraps would go to a factory Bloomberg is planning to build for converting the compost waste into bio-gas, which would be used to generate electricity. It is estimated that New York City residents produce about 1.2 million tons of food waste each year, according to Bloomberg.

On a local level

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