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Editorial: Composting reduces waste stream

The attempt to find ways to take the things that people throw away into things that make money has a long history. Our ancient ancestors took animal bones and made ornaments and tools from them, for example.

In modern times, communities have gotten into the act, particularly as the thinking on trash removal and disposal and their impact on the environment has evolved — and also as the cost of getting rid of them has gotten steeper.

That’s one reason that more and more towns around the country have instituted recycling efforts for paper, glass and metals — and as states like Massachusetts have enacted regulations requiring deposits on beer bottles or soda cans. It’s all about “reducing the waste stream,” an effort that has a number of benefits, including cutting what a town has to pay to get rid of the trash its citizens produce.

With the recent decision to allow residents to bring compost materials to the transfer station, Greenfield is creating another opportunity for them to take a more active role in not only reducing its waste stream, which will help save money, but one that has other benefits as well. That garbage — food scraps, including bones, eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds, paper filters soiled pizza boxes and paper products like napkins and plates — will be picked up from the transfer station by Martin Farm and Compost, who will use it to produce a mixture that can be used as fertilizer and soil conditioner.

Of course, there are residents who are already quite happily composting at home. And while the process is relatively easy, doing one’s own composting requires a little more thought and effort than simply collecting the waste and taking it to a dumpster at the transfer station.

“Everyone talks about a ‘green’ Greenfield. This is a good way for everyone to be a part of that,” Mayor William Martin said.

We agree.

How communities deal with garbage collection and disposal may not be the first thing you think of when you hear about turning trash into treasures, but a town-supported effort to get residents to compost is a way to cash in on a beneficial effort when it comes to waste reduction ... while at the same time helping a local business.

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