With the beginning of the new year, California’s mandate to redirect food waste from the trash bin to the compost heap took effect, making the state the second in the nation to enact such a law. Composting is an easy-to-achieve New Year’s resolution that can make the planet a healthier place, Schmidt Family Foundation co-founder and president Wendy Schmidt wrote in an op-ed published in the San Diego Union Tribune on Jan. 12, 2022.

Composting is in our roots. It’s an ancient activity, used continuously by Indigenous people the world over for thousands of years, that we’ve only learned to neglect in the last century or so. We have become habituated to throwing trash away without thinking about where “away” is. Of course, there actually is no “away.” Our trash ends up in landfills and incinerators that sit next to homes and schools, and that are routinely and unjustly built in communities of color. The toxicity these sites produce seeps into the ground, runs into the water and pollutes the air.

Benefits of composting include reducing methane gases released from rotting food, creating rich topsoil that eliminates the need for fertilizers, and filtering polluted runoff before it can reach larger bodies of water.

The Schmidt Family Foundation, of which the 11th Hour Project is a part, has seen the positive impacts of elevating individual composting habits first-hand through our work with community-based organizations like CRECE Farming Cooperative in Santa Ana. Healthy Soil, Healthy Seas Rhode Island, another initiative with support from our foundation, brings together several community organizations to shape individual action and local policy and connect the dots between land, sea and air. These organizations are showing the power of a diverse compost sector, built from the community up, that can reduce our environmental impact and generate local green jobs.