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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.

    news article

    UNYAC Creation Justice Team’s composting efforts at 2024 Annual Conference

    June 10, 2024 / By Andrew Hartley / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Three 95-gallon containers of food-associated waste were diverted from landfills to composting at the 2024 Annual Conference at the SRC Arena on the campus of Onondaga Community College from May 30 to June 1. The composting was a labor of love arranged by the conference organizing committee and supported by the UNYAC Creation Justice Team (CJT). Items for composting included food scraps, paper plates, and napkins. This AC meeting was the first such meeting at which composting was facilitated. Members of the CJT staffed the composting station at each of the six meals, assisting diners in separating compostable material from plastics, candy wrappers, waxed cups, and so on. The material was removed for processing by Natural Upcycling, an organic recycling company. 

    Why does composting matter? First, consider the scope of America’s food waste problem. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that, in the United States, between 30–40% (about 133-billion pounds annually) of the food supply is wasted. Food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 58% of the fugitive methane emissions (i.e., those released to the atmosphere) from municipal solid waste landfills comes from landfills. Methane (a potent greenhouse gas, and the principal constituent of natural gas), in turn, contributes to the global heating that is worsening weather-related events, such as collapsing infrastructure, diseases, encroaching oceans, food supply risks, heat waves and killer storms. Thus, via food waste, Americans are degrading the beautiful, supportive planet that God put in place to sustain us and for us to steward responsibly (Gensis 2:15). 

    In several ways, composting helps us tame food waste. Obviously, it slows the growth of landfills. Moreover, when compared to electric vehicles, heat pumps, and solar and wind energy, composting is an under-appreciated tool for reducing heat-trapping pollution. Then, too, it recycles organic materials into a valuable soil enhancer, creates jobs, and—because food scraps are heavy—reduces solid waste management costs. 

    Is God calling you, your congregation, and your community, to reduce global heating, through composting? Composting is feasible for congregations, other organizations and individuals, even those living in apartments or townhomes. Many communities have composting programs, but if yours doesn’t, then such programs are an excellent way to strengthen ties between congregations and their communities. At least one United Methodist Earthkeeper project has included composting. 

    For AC2025, we on the CJT want to further enhance the care of God’s creation, including strengthening composting (by, e.g., including other UNYAC committees in staffing composting stations), reducing waste, steering meeting participants towards environmentally responsible hotels, and promoting cleaner transportation options. 

    Are you curious about the UNYAC Creation Justice Team? Formed in Summer 2023, it promotes the care of God’s creation throughout the conference. Its efforts include educating clergy and laity about the biblical basis for creation care and the environmental challenges of the Upper New York region, forming and promoting “green teams” at all local congregations, and facilitating partnerships between congregations and their communities that will foster better care for God’s creation.  We emphasize creation justice, as those who suffer the most from environmental degradation, especially climate change, are largely those who contribute least to it. We amplify the UMC Book of Resolutions in urging each congregation to start a creation care team, or enhance their existing team, and we are eager to come alongside you in such efforts.  

    Other resources 

    FDA on Food Loss and Waste 
    EPA on Quantifying Methane Emissions from Landfilled Food Waste 

    TAGGED / Communications / 2024 Annual Conference

    With more than 100,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 675 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."