Leftovers don’t have to go to waste: Composting program at SBCH promotes cleaner air and sustainable agriculture


Half-eaten sandwiches, bits of pasta, orange peels and other food scraps don’t have to end up in the trash. Instead, they form the ingredients for a healthier environment when used to make compost, and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is doing its part to help the city of Santa Barbara become greener than ever.
Cottage Hospital, along with six other local businesses and organizations, is participating in a pilot program with the city to compost food scraps. It’s the first such program on the South Coast and one of less than 50 in the entire nation.
What’s the benefit of keeping food out of the trash? Food scraps and food service paper make up the bulk of weight clogging the landfills. By separating food scraps and cafeteria plates from garbage, Cottage Hospital can help reduce the load going to the Tajiguas Landfill.
Lightening the landfill load helps combat one of the biggest threats to climate change: methane production. Santa Barbara’s environmental officials report that roughly 40 percent of California’s methane production comes from buried yard clippings and food waste, which translates to millions of tons of greenhouse gases emitted each year into the atmosphere.
Saved from languishing in landfills, food scraps are used to create compost, an excellent soil amendment that not only helps grow more food, it also contributes to sustainable agriculture.
Diners and kitchen staff at the Cottage Hospital cafeteria are urged to place all food scraps, paper plates, and used tea bags into designated compost bins, lined with biodegradable plastic bags. The bags are then delivered to a certified compost facility in the North County.