Food waste is a substantial problem in the United States and beyond. Just in the United States, food waste makes up 30 – 40% of the food supply and is the single largest contributor to our nation’s landfills. While food waste is a multifaceted problem, food recycling and composting is undoubtedly one component of the solution. Simply learning how to make instant compost or use a food recycler is an easy and immediate step we can all take to help address our country’s wasteful habits.
As Cornell University’s composting school explained, “Composting provides a way not only of reducing the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of, but also of converting it into a product that is useful for gardening, landscaping, or house plants.” But composting can happen on many scales; it doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge, overwhelming endeavor. In fact, one of the main hurdles for many individuals is that the typical process involves tossing food into a container and adding manure. This can be smelly and time-consuming.
A Whiz-Bang Food Recycler
One popular tool that improves the composting process is Whirlpool’s Zera Food Recycler. The food recycler can handle all food scraps except bones and pits. Simply toss them in and the Zera—which is about counter height and the width of a standard kitchen trash can—uses blades, a carbon filter and additives (plants, coconut, baking soda, etc.) to help break down the food. The additives come in a pack that users drop in before each use. After just a day, the Zera will have turned what used to be food waste into fertilizer. For the cherry on top, Whirlpool’s fancy food recycler can even be operated via a mobile app. It simply needs to be plugged into a standard outlet for the composting to take place.
According to the company, the Zera reduces food waste by around two-thirds. The only downside, really, is the machine’s cost. The Whirlpool Zera costs just shy of $1,200. Still, it seems consumers are willing to pay the price, considering Zera was funded via IndieGogo and raised 827% its original funding goal.
Compost Without the Stink
While the Whirlpool Zera is the most hyped option out there for food recyclers, you can learn how to make instant compost without it. A cheaper machine is the Food Cycler (not made by Whirlpool). It works very similarly, but is much smaller. According to its maker, it reduces waste by 90% and turns kitchen scraps into fertilizer in just a three-hour cycle. This machine has no enzymes or additives and is marketed as completely odorless, solving one of the greatest inconveniences of composting. And unlike the Zera, it can handle bones, pits and other tough scraps. On Amazon, you can get the machine for between $500 and $600—around half the price of the hyped Whirlpool option.
Either way, a food recycler is a great addition to anyone’s kitchen and an easy, small step anyone can make to reducing food waste. Composting is worth the time and energy in all forms, but is an even more appealing undertaking when it doesn’t have to be smelly or nasty or inconvenient.