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Bellingham
Monday, May 10, 2021

Make a toast to compost

By Taylor Nichols

The resources required to make a hamburger are equivalent to taking a 90-minute shower, when energy and water are considered.

Sustainable Connections is a Bellingham nonprofit. It aims to create a conversation about what it takes to get food to the table, Mark Peterson, the sustainable business manager for the organization, said.

“Sustainable Connections is one of the few people addressing the issue [of food waste] in Bellingham and getting businesses, specifically, on board with composting and creating more sustainable business.”

Hunter Philip, senior and Sustainable Connections intern

“[About 40 percent] of the food that is grown, transported and processed actually goes completely to waste, and the vast majority of that is ending up in landfills,” Peterson said.

The farmers market director Caprice Teske said the market decided to host the event because Earth Day, April 22, coincides with the farmers market this year, which is held every Saturday.

“We’ve always been a Toward Zero Waste event, but we knew we could always up the ante a little bit,” Teske said. “So we decided to make it a Love your Leftovers theme for the entire year, educating consumers about food waste.”

This year they have teamed up with the Bellingham Farmers Market and Boundary Bay Brewery to host an Earth Day block party event called Love Your Leftovers, which will focus on food waste reduction.

Teske said she hopes this knowledge will carry over to handling food waste at home.

Washington State University’s Whatcom County Extension will be there, teaching people how to make their own worm bins to compost food waste at home.

“They have a demonstration worm bin they’ll be showing, which is always a hit with kids,” Peterson said.

Senior Hunter Philip is majoring in environmental studies and interning at Sustainable Connections this quarter.

“Sustainable Connections is one of the few people addressing the issue [of food waste] in Bellingham and getting businesses, specifically, on board with composting and creating more sustainable business,” Philip said.

Illustration by Ben Olson

Philip said he has been working with the farmers market to show people which bins their waste goes in when they don’t know. He said his plans for his work with the organizations are still in the early stages.

“A bigger goal is to [do a survey] to get the community involved in how they view food waste,” Philip said. “It’s not just throwing it in a bin, it’s thinking about every single step of the way.”

Boundary Bay Brewery hosts an Earth Day event every year, and Teske said she reached out to them to coordinate an event this year.

“We’re right across the street from one another, we’ve always supported each other,” Teske said.

The brewery will have a beer garden and live music from local band Snug Harbor.

Aslan Brewing Company and Bayou on Bay are also participating in the Earth Day festivities with Boundary Bay.

Aslan employees will be stamping cards for people who ride their bicycle to each location on that day. When participants have a stamp from all three, they can go to Bayou on Bay at 7 p.m. and use their card to enter a raffle for prizes.

Teske said on a busy summer day, the market has 5,000 customers come through, and they wanted to host the event to help educate community members.

“The farmers market is really trying to help Sustainable Connections, and the community in general, elevate the conversation around food waste and the amount of food that we waste in our country,” Peterson said.

The block party will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, at the Bellingham Farmers Market.

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